South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae speaks at a press briefing at the government building in Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 6, 2014. South Korea planned to expand non-political exchanges with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) this year in a bid to brace for future reunification, the ministry in charge of inter-Korean relations said Thursday. (Xinhua/Park Jin-hee)
SEOUL, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- South Korea planned to expand non- political exchanges with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) this year in a bid to brace for future reunification,the ministry in charge of inter-Korean relations said Thursday.
According to the Unification Ministry's annual policy report to President Park Geun-hye, the ministry will push to expand civilian exchanges between the two Koreas to recover homogeneity among Koreans who have lived away from each other for six decades since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in armistice, not peace treaty.
The report titled "Laying ground for reunification era on the Korean Peninsula" said that Seoul will provide breed, seed and farm tools with Pyongyang this year to restart cooperation in agricultural and livestock sectors. Such aid will be offered under close consultation with foreign non-governmental organizations ( NGO), the ministry said.
President Park said in her New Year's press conference that if South Korea supports the DPRK's agricultural and livestock sectors, it will equal to substantial aid to people in the DPRK, noting that in the process of supporting, a path will be opened for close intimacy among Koreans.
So-called "green dtente," which pursues peace and stability through environment-friendly projects, will be pushed for by joint forestation and a project of preventing forest disease and pest.
South Korea's agricultural aid to the DPRK was suspended under the previous Lee Myung-bak administration from 2007 to 2011 amid the worsened inter-Korean relations. From 1999 to 2007, Seoul sent a total of 2,555,000 tons of fertilizer to Pyongyang, while offering seeds and pesticides.
To expand social and cultural exchanges, South Korea planned to push ahead with various projects in sports, arts and youth areas, while pursuing joint excavation of historical remains buried in the DPRK and joint exhibition of cultural heritage.
To raise awareness of reunification among South Koreans, the ministry will encourage education on the need for peaceful reunification, while publicizing its reunification policy to the public.
In her New Year's speech on Jan. 6, President Park described the future reunification as "bonanza," which became a buzzword on numerous headlines of local news organizations.
Meanwhile, the ministry planned to make "systematic" preparations for the future deal with the DPRK to build so-called World Peace Park inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which President Park proposed last year. Seoul will actively consult with Pyongyang this year to reach the deal, the ministry said.
South Korea will push to globalize the inter-Korean industrial zone in the DPRK's border town of Kaesong through improved business conditions. Seoul will continue to consult with Pyongyang to introduce Internet connectivity in the last remaining symbol of the inter-Korean economic cooperation.
The Rajin-Khasan rail track project will continue to be pushed for. The 54-km Rajin-Khasan railway, which links the DPRK's northeastern port city of Rajin to its nearby Russian town Khasan, was reopened in September last year. It re-connected the port to Russia's Trans Siberian Railway (TSR), making it possible for South Korean exporters to transport goods first by sea and move them by railway to as far as Europe.
Park and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the memorandum of understanding during the summit in Seoul last November to allow three South Korean companies to participate in the Rajin-Khasan project. Seoul hoped to connect the Trans-Korean Railway (TKR) with the TSR and the Trans-China Railway (TCR).
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