DPR-Korea New Zealand

Promoting diplomatic and cultural relations between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and New Zealand.

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North-South Joint Declaration 13th Anniversary

Chairman Kim Jong-Il of the National Defence Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and President Kim Dae-Jung of the Republic of Korea

Chairman Kim Jong-Il of the National Defence Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and President Kim Dae-Jung of the Republic of Korea

DPR-Korea New Zealand acknowledges the thirteenth anniversary of the signing of the historic June 15 2000 North-South Joint Declaration, republished below, between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North) and the Republic of Korea (South).

True to the noble will of all the fellow countrymen for the peaceful reunification of the country, Chairman Kim Jong-Il of the National Defence Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and President Kim Dae-Jung of the Republic of Korea had a historic meeting and summit in Pyongyang from June 13 to 15, 2000.

The heads of the North and the South, considering that the recent meeting and summit – the first of their kind in history of division – are events of weighty importance in promoting mutual understanding, developing inter-Korean relations and achieving peaceful reunification, declare as follows:

1. The North and the South agreed to solve the question of the country’s reunification independently by the concerted efforts of the Korean nation responsible for it.

2. The North and the South, recognising that a proposal for federation of lower stage advanced by the North side and a proposal for confederation put forth by the South side for the reunification of the country have elements in common, agreed to work for the reunification in this direction in the future.

3. The North and the South agreed to settle humanitarian issues, including exchange of visiting groups of separated families and relatives and the issue of unconverted long-term prisoners, as early as possible on the occasion of August 15 this year.

4. The North and the South agreed to promote the balanced development of the national economy through economic cooperation and build mutual confidence by activating cooperation and exchanges in all fields, social, cultural, sports, public health, environmental and so on.

5. The North and the South agreed to hold dialogues between the authorities as soon as possible to implement the above-mentioned agreed points in the near future.

President Kim Dae-Jung cordially invited Chairman Kim Jong-Il of the DPRK National Defence Commission to visit Seoul and Chairman Kim Jong-Il agreed to visit Seoul at an appropriate time in the future.

June 15, 2000

Kim Jong-Il , Chairman of the National Defence Commission, DPRK

Kim Dae-Jung, President of the Republic of Korea

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Christianity in North Korea

Rev Stuart Vogel, Secretary of the Council of Asian Congregations at the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand

Rev Stuart Vogel, Secretary of the Asian Council, Presbyterian Church of New Zealand

Reverend Stuart Vogel, Secretary of the Asian Council at the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, offers his perspective on Christianity in North Korea.

At some point someone is going to have to tackle the straight, hard questions about Christians in North Korea. It might as well be me, and these are just my own views “shooting from the hip”. The proviso always is that we can not know for sure because of the lack of hard facts. But here we go.

Question 1: Are Christians persecuted in North Korea?

Answer: Christians who choose to worship in one of the two “open” churches in Pyongyang probably exist alongside everyone else without overt oppression. There is however persistent and consistent evidence from diverse sources that Christians who choose to worship in other ways and places are subject to what would normally be defined as repression. The DPRK Government’s response which is, in essence, “there is no oppression in North Korea because we say there isn’t”, is entirely unsatisfactory.

Question 2: But doesn’t the constitution of the DPRK guarantee freedom of religion?

Answer: Yes, but it depends on how you interpret this phrase. It may mean that there is only freedom to worship at a set time and place under Government approved leadership. However, there appears to be no freedom at all to teach young people under 18 years of age any religious teaching for example. This could be taken to be an essential part of “freedom of religion”.

Question 3: Aren’t the people who go to the “Open Churches” simply Government plants and not Christian at all?

Answer: This would be a big call and unfair. We in the West have no right to make a judgment on how Christians react in situations like this. A study of the “open” and “underground” churches and the nature of Government influence on churches in China and former Soviet Union will show the complexity of this situation. It is the wrong question. We can say that Christians who participate in “open” churches can not be Party members and therefore will often be barred from promotion.

Question 4: What should other Christians, especially those in Western countries, do?

Answer: (i) pray; (ii) keep in touch with Christians in the North in every “above board” way possible, such as through Christian aid agencies and relations where possible with the official Christian body in the DPRK, the Korean Christian Federation; (iii) examine the tensions in our own history of Church/State relations in the West, such as the issues that arise in World War II, and the attempts of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop George Bell to mediate peace – and the reactions they got from their respective Governments. Patriotism is a tough virtue to nail down – if it is a virtue at all.

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Former Cabinet Minister Warren Freer Dies

Long-serving Labour MP and former cabinet minister Warren Freer has died at the age of 92. Warren Freer was a Member of Parliament for 34 years, and the number three ranked minister in the Third Labour Government (1972 – 1975), first led by Norman Kirk and later Bill Rowling. He was well-known for promoting links with Communist China and was the first western politician to venture into the country.

Warren Freer“Today, when the Western world thinks nothing of purchasing Chinese goods in all manner of shops, it is difficult to remember that in 1955 the world was involved in a cold war, which was constantly being stirred by McCarthyism… There was a complete trade embargo on China, with the United States maintaining a fleet in the China Sea and the aerial surveillance of the Chinese coast. News media talked of China living behind a ‘bamboo curtain’ as though China had placed itself beyond contact. Emanating from the States were numerous articles about China written by people who had never been to its borders let alone visited there.”

In 1955 Warren Freer spent five months travelling in Asia, including one month in China. Freer was on a tour of Asian markets looking for openings for New Zealand manufactured goods when he met an Israeli diplomat, David Hacohen, in Rangoon. Hacohen had just returned from China and suggested that Freer might find a visit to this huge market worthwhile. Hakin used his influence with Chinese officials to obtain visas for Freer and his wife. When told of Freer’s intention to visit China, Labour Party leader Walter Nash ordered the backbencher to return home. But the then Prime Minister Sidney Holland said a visit to China – even by a member of the opposition – was too good an opportunity to miss. The Freers crossed the border from Hong Kong at Lo Wu. Chinese officials met the couple in Canton where they expressed a fear that Freer, a former journalist, might write “a pack of lies” about China. Freer agreed to tell the Chinese government what – if anything – he intended to write before leaving China. At that point the Freers became guests of the Chinese government.

Warren Freer at the Joint Security Area at Panmunjom. Freer visited both Koreas, including the North twice.

Warren Freer at the Joint Security Area at Panmunjom. Freer visited both Koreas, including North Korea twice.

Freer also visited North Korea on a number of occasions. During late 1979 an NZ-DPRK  Society delegation to the North was received by the DPRK Deputy Prime Minister. In an article published after the visit the delegation said that the country’s industrial development was “remarkable”, and the degree of equality “most impressive”. North Korea was “very delighted” with such coverage. After visiting, Freer said there were “encouraging” prospects of trade with the North, and remarked that economic conditions were much better than he had expected. According to North Korea, Freer visited again during July 1980.

Freer wrote in his memoirs that he was surprised at the limited knowledge that Chinese officials had on North Korea, recalling an occasion during which the Minister for Foreign Trade,  Li Chiang, assembled a number of his senior officers to hear Freer’s comments about their neighbor.

As the Minister of Trade and Industry and of Energy Resources, he drew up the Maui gas agreement with the oil companies in New Zealand’s first billion dollar project. And he pushed through legislation on maximum retail prices in an attempt to curb rising prices, despite heavy opposition from the grocery trade. After retiring from Parliament in 1981, he moved to Australia’s Gold Coast but later returned to New Zealand. He has been succeeded in his Mount Albert electorate by two Labour Party leaders, Helen Clark and David Shearer. In a statement on Saturday, Mr Shearer said Warren Freer was an honourable bloke who stuck to his guns. He expressed condolences to Mr Freer’s family.

Warren Freer is survived by his wife and two sons.

Source(s): A Lifetime in Politics: The Memoirs of Warren Freer (VUW Press), New Zealand Independent Business Weekly, Radio New Zealand, DPR-Korea New Zealand. Image 1: Warren Wilfred Freer, possibly in 1947, when he entered Parliament. Photograph taken by S P Andrew Ltd. Image 2: A Lifetime in Politics: The Memoirs of Warren Freer (VUW Press).

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Hoping for Friendship and Cooperation

Pak Kyong-Il is a Department Director at the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and Chairman of the Korea-New Zealand Friendship Society.

Pak Kyong-Il is a Department Director at the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and Chairman of the Korea-New Zealand Friendship Society.

Pak Kyong-Il, Department Director at the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and Chairman of the Korea-New Zealand Friendship Society, reflects on important events of the past year and the outlook for 2013.

“The Korean people have greeted the New Year 2013 with fresh confidence and optimism. 2012 which witnessed a complicated world political situation was a year when the peoples of different countries extended fuller support for and solidarity with the Korean people.

“Amid great expectation and interest of the world’s progressives the world conference on the Juche idea, the international festival and the 28th April Spring Friendship Art Festival were held in celebration of the centenary of the birth of President Kim Il-Sung. On the same occasion different countries and international organizations held a variety of events including remembrance meetings, photo and film shows and artistic performances.

“The Korean Central News Agency and the Associated Press co-sponsored a photo exhibition in New York for the first time in the annals of DPRK-US relations to mark the Day of the Sun, causing a great sensation all over the world. On the occasion of the first anniversary of the death of Chairman Kim Jong-Il many countries sent messages to the DPRK supreme leader Kim Jong-Un. More than 10,000 events to cherish the memory of the late DPRK leader were held in over 190 countries and some 15,000 media organizations published special articles.

“To mark major DPRK anniversaries including the Day of the Sun and the Day of the Shining Star DPRK book and photo exhibitions and film shows were held in China, Russia, Mexico and many other countries and regions of the world and full support for and solidarity with the just cause of the Korean people were voiced in each venue of the events. A delegation from the Communist Party of China, a joint delegation of four political parties of the State Duma of Russia, a delegation from the Ministry of Justice of Mongolia and the government economic delegation of Syria visited the DPRK to deepen friendly feelings with the country.

“This year we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War and the 65th anniversary of the DPRK. The world’s progressive peoples are making a wide range of preparations to mark the anniversaries with the Korean people. Their support and solidarity activities instil great strength and encouragement into the Korean people, who highly appreciate them. We will boost friendship and cooperation this year, too, with the countries, peoples and international organizations that are friendly towards us under the ideal of independence, peace and friendship.”

Hoping for Friendship and Cooperation was first published by The Pyongyang Times, and appeared on Naenara on 9 January, 2013.