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View more articles by Dagyum Ji
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
North and South Korean civic groups agreed to push forward with an inter-Korean soccer match in August and hold “large scale” cultural events in October during their meetings last week in Pyongyang, the South’s representatives said at a news conference in Seoul on Monday.
The DPRK side also “strongly” requested to further discuss a joint ceremony on August 15, the South Korean group reported.
The South Korean Committee for the Implementation for the June 15 Joint Declaration visited Pyongyang between June 20 and 23, with a total of 15 South Koreans attending the meetings between the North, South and overseas committees held on Thursday and Friday last week.
Speaking at the press conference, the committee said the DPRK and ROK civic groups agreed to hold inter-Korean large-scale events on National Foundation Day, the anniversary of the 2007 October 4 Declaration and on March 1, Independence Movement Day.
The events will “promote the national atmosphere for the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration” signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in April.
An Ji-jung — who is in charge of the South Korean committee’s visit to Pyongyang — told NK News the planned event for National Foundation Day which is set to take place at King Tangun’s Mausoleum in Pyongyang on October is “almost confirmed.”
To this end, the North and South Korean sides will hold additional working-level talks in July.
An added the event celebrating the October 4 Declaration is also likely to proceed, although the North and South Korean sides have yet to discuss the two events’ details, including their exact date and size.
The committee added both sides will discuss a joint event to be held on National Liberation Day on August 15, though cryptically said the outcome is dependent on “a future situation.”
The committee’s standing representative chairman Lee Chang-bok told assembled media the North “strongly requested to have further discussions on the issue” of the June 15 event, though declined to provide further details.
During the press conference, the ROK committee announced that both sides agreed to hold a soccer match between trade union teams from the two countries.
Should it go ahead, it will be the first of its kind since October 2015 when a similar match was held at Pyongyang’s May Day Stadium.
Following the news conference, An told NK News there is a “high chance that the plan will be realized” if the ROK and the DPRK trade unions can come to a consensus on the details.
But An explained that it was difficult for both sides to discuss the issue as the South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU) did not allow the vice-chairman of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) to visit North Korea.
The vice-chairman and five other South Koreans originally applied to visit Pyongyang along with the committee, though were denied permission to visit the North Korean capital.
But Lee Chang-bok previously told NK News the MOU’s explanation for declining the application was “unacceptable.”
Tthe civic group added it had been in “close coordination with the government” over the implementation of inter-Korean sports and cultural events and contacts with North Korean nationals, despite the conflict over the MOU’s denial last week.
The visit of 15 South Korean nationals to Pyongyang is the first by a ROK civic group since the Moon administration took office in May 2017.
A Buddhist monk was previously allowed to travel to Pyongyang in early June to discuss religious exchanges, which was the current ROK government’s first approval for a South Korean national to cross the inter-Korean border for the purpose of boosting civilian exchanges.
Featured Image: The South Korean Committee for the Implementation for the June 15 Joint Declaration
North and South Korean civic groups agreed to push forward with an inter-Korean soccer match in August and hold "large scale" cultural events in October during their meetings last week in Pyongyang, the South's representatives said at a news conference in Seoul on Monday.
The DPRK side also "strongly" requested to further discuss a joint ceremony on August 15, the South Korean group reported.