Ministry of Unification

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Ministry of Unification
Emblem of the Ministry of Unification (English).svg
Emblem of the Ministry of Unification
Central Government Complex (Main Building), Seoul (정부서울청사 본관).JPG
The main building of Central Government Complex location of the MOU
Agency overview
Formed March 1, 1969 (1969-03-01)
  • National Unification Board (1969-1998)
Jurisdiction Republic of Korea
Headquarters Jongno-gu, Seoul
37°34′29.586″N 126°58′32.632″E / 37.57488500°N 126.97573111°E / 37.57488500; 126.97573111
Minister responsible
  • Hong Yong-pyo, Minister of Unification
Deputy Minister responsible
  • Kim Hyungseok, Vice Minister of Unification
Parent agency Government of South Korea
Child agencies
Ministry of Unification is located in Seoul
Ministry of Unification
Ministry of Unification (Seoul)

The Ministry of Unification is an executive department of the South Korean government responsible for working towards the reunification of Korea. It was first established in 1969 as the National Unification Board, under the rule of Park Chung-hee. It gained its current status in 1998 and has played a major role in promoting inter-Korean dialogues, and exchanges and cooperation.

Under previous minister Yu Woo-ik, the ministry consisted of one office for planning and coordination; three bureaus for unification policy, inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation, and humanitarian cooperation; one special bureau for the Gaeseong Industrial Complex project; and five affiliated agencies on unification education, inter-Korean dialogue, transit between the South and the North, settlement support for dislocated North Koreans and inter-Korean consultations on exchanges and cooperation. However, in 2008, the ministry was significantly downsized as part of an efficiency restructuring of government.[1]

The current minister is Hong Yong-pyo, a former advisor to the President on North Korea, who was sworn into office on 16 March 2015.[2] Its headquarters are on the sixth and seventh floors of the Seoul Government Complex in Jongno District, Seoul.[3]

Lee Myung-bak Administration[edit]

The ministry's aims as of 2008[4] were:


According to the Ministry website, its major duties are as follows:

  • Establishing North Korea Policy: The ministry coordinates the South Korean government's policy toward North Korea and establishes and implements long-term policies for national unification. The ministry encourages public participation in the overall process. To effectively pursue unification policies, the ministry analyzes the political, socioeconomic and military aspects of North Korea.
  • Coordinating inter-Korean dialogue: As the chief government body to communicate with North Korea, the Ministry of Unification coordinates inter-Korean dialogue at all levels in the political, economic, military and humanitarian areas.
  • Pursuing inter-Korean cooperation: In addition, the ministry sets the rules and procedures for inter-Korean economic cooperation including those governing Mt. Geumgang tour, Gaeseong industrial complex and reconnection of inter-Korean roads and railways and various exchange programs in the athletic, cultural and academic areas. This includes the pursuit of humanitarian cooperation on human rights conditions in North Korea, South Korean POW and abductee issues, reunion of separated families, settlement support for dislocated North Koreans and cross-border exchanges of goods and people alongside the inter-Korean roads and railways.
  • Educating the public on unification. The ministry often enlists the services of local NGOs to provide educational information to people throughout Korea.
  • Resolving humanitarian issues: When providing ‘pure’ humanitarian assistance to the vulnerable groups in North Korea, including infants and pregnant women, the ROK government will work closely with international organizations to decide the appropriate time and method of assistance regardless of the political circumstances and security situation on the Korean peninsula.
  • Improving the customized program for North Korean refugees’ resettlement: The ROK government will reinforce the existing medical support system for North Korean refugees and provide personalized education tailored according their age groups. We will advance the re-education system and provide concentrated education to young people so they can obtain economic independence in South Korean society. We will open the ‘Cultural Center for North Korean Refugees’ with an aim to help them become integral agents and leaders in realizing the peaceful national unification. This center will serve as a communication hub for North Korean refugees.
  • Gathering and analyzing information on North Korea: The ministry collects information in many different fields such as North Korean politics, military, culture, economy, and science in order to make better decisions regarding the unification process.
  • Managing physical access to and from North Korea: It is in charge of anything that goes through the border, for both people and goods.


  1. Economic Revival: The government will help North Korea develop its economy and participate in the international community and pursue an economic cooperation that will benefit both Koreas.
  2. ROK citizens’ welfare: It will take on the projects to the extent that it does not hurt the citizens’ welfare and work towards a unified Korea which will benefit both North and South Korea.
  3. Thriving culture: It will help build a ground on which culture can thrive, and work towards a healthy culture for North Korea, one which both Koreas can agree upon.
  4. Building a foundation for national unification: It will realize a new unified Korea that ensures everyone’s happiness by trust-building processes, embarking on small-scale unification projects that will ultimately lead to a complete integration of the two Koreas, and take practical measures to prepare for unification by strengthening unification capabilities.[5]

Guiding principles[edit]

The Hong Yong-pyo administration is guided by four principles: a balanced approach; North Korea policy that evolves over time; and cooperation with the international community.

  1. A balance between ‘national security and exchange/cooperation’ and ‘inter-Korean cooperation and international cooperation’ will be struck: remain flexible where appropriate, yet firm when necessary, in order to closely coordinate the critical factors which constitute our policy towards North Korea.
  2. Encourage North Korea to make “the right choice” and move closer towards meaningful cross-border interaction by continuously complementing and revising our policies toward the North; North Korean policies will remain responsive and vigilant with regards to developments in our surrounding regional neighborhood in order to ensure robust and proactive management of the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
  3. Close consultation and cooperation with the international community, we will resolve the security crisis on the Korean Peninsula; seek to establish a virtuous cycle between the resolution of issues on the Korean Peninsula and increased peace and collaboration in Northeast Asia.

Major tasks[edit]

  1. All issues between the two Koreas should be resolved through dialogue. We will engage in productive dialogue with the North to resolve all pending issues with sincerity. The leaders of the two Koreas may meet any time if they do so in good faith with the goal of unification and a better life for all 70 million Koreans.
  2. It will continue to encourage North Korea to give up it nuclear programs through the Six-party Talks. The Lee administration will call for a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue during inter-Korean dialogue.
  3. It will achieve qualitative development of inter-Korean relations through mutually beneficial economic cooperation between the two Koreas. Existing economic cooperation projects will be promoted by removing obstacles. New projects will be pursued according to the four criteria: progress in North Korea’s denuclearization, economic feasibility, our financial capability and national consensus. The Lee administration will implement the Vision 3000: Denuclearization and Openness to create an inter-Korean economic community.
  4. Social and cultural exchanges will be expanded to develop a sense of national commonality. An institutional foundation will be laid to ensure a substantial and stable development of social and cultural exchanges.
  5. The Lee administration will remain strongly committed to the resolution of the humanitarian issues. We will find fundamental solutions to the separate family issue and give a priority to the resolution of the South Korean POW and abductee issues as they are our citizens whom the government should protect. We will deal with human rights in North Korea as a matter of universal value. The ROK government will provide humanitarian aid to North Korea unconditionally from a humanitarian perspective and in the spirit of brotherhood toward fellow North Koreans.[6]

The evolution of the unification formula[edit]

Jeon Doo Hwan administration: The Unification Formula for Harmony and Democracy (January 22, 1982)[edit]

  • Basic principle: Independence, democratic procedures, peaceful methods
  • Unification process: Form a unification Council (composed of representatives from North and South)→
  • Free national referendum→ Confirm and declare draft of the constitution→ Hold general election in accordance with the constitution, form government
  • Intermediate measures : Signing of an agreement on the basic relationship between North and South Korea

Roe Tae Woo administration : The Unification Plan for One National Community (September 11, 1989)[edit]

  • Basic principles : Independence, peace, democracy
  • Unification process: Adopt a Korean Community Communique through an inter-Korean summit→ Form a Korean commonwealth (Recover a national community)→ Hold a general election in accordance with the constitution of the unified country and form a governing structure
  • The future of a unified nation : A democratic country where freedom, human rights and happiness are guaranteed
  • North Korea is to be seen as a good-willed partner with whom active exchanges will be promoted

Kim Young Sam administration and since : Unification Formula for the Korean National Community (August 15, 1994)[edit]

  • Basic principles : Independence, peace, democracy
  • Unification procedure: Reconciliation and cooperation→North-South Union (based on the mutual trust built during the reconciliation and cooperation stage) → Hold a and fair general election in accordance with the new constitution, and achieve unification of the people and the nation simultaneously
  • The future of a unified nation : An advanced, democratic country where freedom, welfare and human dignity are upheld
  • Based on the recognition that the political standoff between North and South Korea has come to an end

Kim Dae Jung, Roh Moo Hyun and Lee Myung Bak continued on with the Korean National Community Unification Formula

Major achievements[edit]

  1. Resolution of major issues through dialogue based on trust and principles
  2. Normalization of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex with a forward-looking approach: first real progress on issues of communication, customs and passing made in a decade
  3. Efforts to resolve issues of separated families: a reunion in four years
  4. Continued humanitarian aid and social and cultural exchanges
  5. Inter-Korean cooperation in a global context
  6. Tailored support for the settlement of North Korean refugees: dedicated coordinators for student refugees
  7. Consensus-building at home and abroad regarding the 「Trust- building Process on the Korean Peninsula」 and preparation for 「The Era of a Unified Korea」[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Brief History - 2000s". Ministry of Unification. Retrieved 22 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Byrne, Leo (16 March 2015). "New unification minister pledges dialogue with North Korea | NK News - North Korea News". NK News. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  3. ^ "Location & Contact Info." (Archive) Ministry of Unification. Retrieved on January 1, 2013. "Ministry of Unification Address: Government Complex - Seoul , 209 Sejong-daero(Sejong-ro). Jongno-gu, Republic of Korea"
  4. ^ Aidan Foster-Carter (11 September 2011). "Lee Myung Bak's Nordpolitik: A U-turn in the Pipeline?". 38 North. Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. Retrieved 22 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "Vision Statement". Ministry of Unification. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  6. ^ "Major Objective". Ministry of Unificaiton. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  7. ^ "Ministry of Unification". Retrieved Sept.24, 2016.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)

External links[edit]