South Korea says the North has made a surprise offer to allow South Korean business people to inspect their equipment at a shuttered joint industrial complex on the northern side of the inter-Korean border.
South Korea immediately responded with a proposal to discuss the matter Saturday (July 6) at the border truce village of Panmunjom.
The South Korean unification ministry told VOA news that North Korea delivered its offer Wednesday during a face-to-face meeting at Panmunjom. The two Koreas also reactivated a communication channel Thursday morning that the North largely had suspended during recent months of tension with the South.
The Kaesong industrial complex has been closed since April, when the North withdrew its workers and blocked access by the South Korean companies who used it to produce industrial goods with low-cost North Korean labor.
Earlier in the day, an association representing the South Korean businesses called on Seoul to negotiate with Pyongyang on reviving the complex. Yoo Chang-guen is the spokesman for the Corporate Association of Kaesong Industrial Complex. He said the companies want to protect their investments.
"Electronic companies already have invested and installed many facilities in Kaesong, so they cannot easily decide to move out," he said. "Since the industrial complex has been closed for three months, the companies do not know how their machines are doing. Also, they do not know when Kaesong will be operational again, so they were desperate and demanded permission to visit North Korea."
The South Korean association said it does not intend to withdraw from Kaesong completely, but needs to relocate equipment to South Korea or third countries to prevent damage during the rainy season.
Seoul said it was considering Pyongyang's offer to let the businesses visit Kaesong. There was no word on whether the complex would be reopened.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.