North Korea. The Geneva talks between North Korea, South Korea,
the United States and China on a Korean peace treaty,
initiated in December 1997, continued in March and October
but without progress. One reason was N's demand for calls
even for taking home the US's 37,000 soldiers from South
Korea and for separate peace between North Korea and the US, demands
that the US completely rejected.
The contacts between North and South Korea, formally
still at war, were marked as before by both peace messengers
and deep mistrust. In June, when the founder of South Korean
Hyundai Group Chung Ju Yung shipped 500 cattle across the
border to help with food shortages in the north, North Korea claimed
71 animals had died since being poisoned in South Korea. In
October, however, Chung was able to deliver a second,
equally large livestock transport.
Hyundai was also behind the two historic tourist cruises
that in November, for the first time, allowed South Koreans
to visit the closed North Korea. The tour gave over 1,000 tourists,
many born in the north before the country's split in 1945,
an insight into the neighboring country's tough, poor
everyday life, but the visit was also rigorously monitored
by North Korean guards.
Despite three years of emergency deliveries from the
outside world, N's food shortage and famine persisted. The
international aid group Doctors Without Borders said in
April that a large part of the aid has stayed with the
military and officials. Five months later, Doctors Without
Borders announced that they had to leave North Korea after
collaboration with the regime broke down. In November, the
Red Cross maintained that the state of livelihood was
critical and that "a whole generation of North Korean
children received but for life" by the famine.
In other ways, the communist regime also raised concerns.
On August 31, the country fired a rocket over Japan, which
angrily protested against what was seen as a trial shot of a
long-range robot. North Korea claimed to have placed its first
satellite in orbit.
In the fall, tensions between North Korea and the United States
increased since Americans demanded to inspect a large
underground complex, discovered via spy satellites. The
suspicion was that North Korea where again trying to develop nuclear
weapons, something the country declined in exchange for
modern nuclear technology from the United States, Japan and
South Korea. N. refused to let inspectors get there and
accused the United States of wanting to trigger a war.
Countryaah, the country's highest leader, party and military chief
Kim Jong Il, was elected to parliament on July 26. But his
long-awaited appointment for president also failed. Instead,
his father, the 1994 deceased Kim Il Sung, was named North Korea's