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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.
The South Korean presidential office announced on Monday that Seoul plans to dispatch a delegation of around 200 people for the upcoming inter-Korean summit, expressing its hope to bring business people to Pyongyang as well.
A senior presidential official – speaking at a closed-door briefing on the condition of anonymity – said the scale of the delegation isn’t abnormally large given that around 100 people minimum are required to fulfill protocol, security, and administration needs.
However, the Blue House’s hopes to add South Korean business people to the delegation is something that is requiring additional review.
“We are in discussions. We are also compiling opinions on the composition of the delegation,” the official said on Monday.
“We hope that businesspersons will certainly join [the delegation], but we are still under consideration to which extent and whom we can invite.”
Seoul and Pyongyang previously agreed to hold what would be the third meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un between September 18 and 20.
The South Korean Government has previously included business leaders in the accompanying delegations for the first and second inter-Korean summits that took place in Pyongyang.
In 2000, then-chairman of the LG Group Koo Bon-moo, Hyundai Asan chief director Chung Mong-hun, vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics Yun Jong-yong, and chairman of SK group Son Kil-seung and others travel to Pyongyang.
In 2007, Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo, SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won, Hyundai Group chairwoman and CEO Hyun Jeong-eun, and then-POSCO Chairman Lee Ku-taek were part of a special entourage along with representatives of other South Korean companies engaged in inter-Korean economic cooperation.
It would also not be the first time that South Korean business people have headed north this year as a small number have already visited the DPRK amid the warming of inter-Korean ties in 2018.
The Chairman and CEO of Hana Financial Group Kim Jung-tai and the CEO of LF Corp Koo Bon-keul, among others, visited Pyongyang in August to attend an international youth football tournament known as the “Ari Sports Cup.”
Hyundai Group CEO Hyun Jeong-eun also visited Mount Kumgang in the same month for a memorial event commemorating the 15th anniversary of the death of former Hyundai chairman Chung Mong-hun. Hyun also took part in meetings with North Korean officials while in the country.
Meanwhile, during a televised press briefing on Monday, Presidential Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok announced that invitations to the upcoming summit had been extended to nine political leaders within the ROK National Assembly.
Chairman of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea and former Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan, National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang, Chairman of the minor opposition Party for Democracy and Peace and former unification minister Chung Dong-young – among others – were invited.
“The government has taken the initiative in proceeding with inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation up until now, but there have been a lot of discussions that they will be more stabilized when the National Assembly participates,” Im said.
While calling for an affirmative response from the National Assembly and political parties, the South Korean Presidential Chief of Staff said their participation will provide “unwavering support”, which will enable Seoul to make a “fresh turning point” based on their efforts.
The invitation comes on the same day the ruling and opposition political parties agreed to postpone assembly discussions on the ratification of the Panmunjom Declaration until after the third Moon-Kim meeting.
The announcement comes after meetings on Monday between the Democratic Party of Korea and opposition parties – Liberty Party of Korea and Bareun Mirae Party – local outlets including Yonhap News Agency reported.
The Blue House had announced the plan to submit a motion to the National Assembly seeking the ratification of the Panmunjom Declaration on Friday, pending its passage of a Cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
In preparation for the fifth inter-Korean summit, Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to hold a high-ranking working-level meeting in the truce village of Panmunjom to discuss protocol, security, communications and media coverage early this week.
Although the agreement was made during the visit to Pyongyang by South Korean special envoys on Wednesday, both sides reportedly haven’t finalized a date for the discussions.
Featured Image: Joint Inter-Korean Summit Press Corps