Hosted by the Korea-EU Inter-Parliamentary Council, a breakfast meeting of parliamentarians from Korea and the EU was held at Sarangjae in the National Assembly on July 20. The president of the council, Rep. Lee Mi Kyung, presided over the meeting. From the EU part, Mr. Herbert Reul, the chairman of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the Korean Peninsula, five other delegates, and EU Ambassador to Korea Tomasz Kozlowski participated.
Before arriving in South Korea, the EU delegation also paid a visit to North Korea from July 15 to 19. They gave a briefing on their visit to the North to the Council members, and shared opinions about important North Korean issues.
Speaking about the shutdown of the Kaesong industrial complex, the delegation emphasized that without assurance about and credibility for investing in the North, investors of the EU or any other country will not put their money into the North Korean market. They also remarked that exchange and consistent contact is the only key to helping the people of North Korea while dealing with the regime.
When asked about the EU’s opinion on the possibility of the North’s financial aid diversion, the delegation said that since the EU provides aid directly through nongovernment organizations, not the regime, they do not worry about the possibility.
The delegation also mentioned that they had found people in the North more open, compared to previous visits. Answering to a question about causes of the change in attitude of the people who had increasingly been isolated for the past five years, they added that the attitude of the people and the appearance of the regime seen from outside do not need to be equated, and added that to elicit political changes, exchange and contact channels are required to be run.
Regarding other issues including the Korean government’s effort to legalize the black market, the participants had an in-depth discussion over specific approaches.
The Korea-EU Inter-Parliamentary Council has joint meetings with the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the Korean Peninsula by mutual visits on a regular basis. This meeting was the first official gathering after the 16th joint session held in Brussels on January 10, 2013.