April 25, 2013
S Korea Proposes Talks with North on Stalled Factory Complex
South Korea has proposed talks with North Korea over a stalled joint factory complex, and is warning of a tough response if Pyongyang does not agree to the offer.
The proposal was laid out Thursday by South Korean Unification Ministry spokesperson Kim Hyung-suk.
"The government today, April 25, officially proposes to hold working-level talks between the authorities of the South and the North to resolve humanitarian issues affecting Kaesong workers and to normalize the Kaesong industrial zone."
Kim did not say what Seoul would do if Pyongyang does not respond to the offer by the deadline of Friday at noon, local time . But the ministry threatened "significant measures" if the offer is rejected.
Operations at the Kaesong industrial complex, just north of the border, have been suspended since North Korea angrily pulled its workers and blocked South Korean access to the center earlier this month.
About 180 South Koreans remain there in hopes that production can resume, but they are thought to be quickly running out of food and supplies. Some say the workers may have to be pulled if the impasse is not resolved soon.
Kaesong is the last remaining symbol of cooperation between the two foes, and is seen as a bellwether of Korean relations. Although work at the center has been suspended during times of heightened tensions, it has never been shut down completely since it was established in 2004.
Tensions remain high on the Korean peninsula, though Pyongyang has toned down its threatening rhetoric against the South in recent days.
Still, North Korean military leaders boasted of their readiness during a ceremony Thursday at Kumsusan Palace marking the founding of the country's military. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attended the ceremony and saluted soldiers marching during a parade.
The bodies of Kim Jong Un's father and grandfather are both embalmed at the palace.
North Korea is angry over United Nations Security Council sanctions passed in response to its February nuclear test, as well as annual joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States.