News / Asia

Korean Talks on Reopening Joint Complex See Little Progress

S. Korean vehicles leave for South and North Korea's joint Kaesong Industrial Complex to bring back their finished goods and materials at the customs, immigration and quarantine office of the Inter-Korean Transit Office near the border village of Panmunjom, July 15, 2013.
S. Korean vehicles leave for South and North Korea's joint Kaesong Industrial Complex to bring back their finished goods and materials at the customs, immigration and quarantine office of the Inter-Korean Transit Office near the border village of Panmunjom, July 15, 2013.
Daniel Schearf
Negotiators from North and South Korea are meeting for a fourth round of talks July 17 with little progress so far in restarting the jointly invested Kaesong industrial complex. The factory park is the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean cooperation and analysts say a failure to reopen it would increase tensions in already fractured relations.

​Working level talks got off to a positive start earlier this month with both sides agreeing in principle to re-open their shuttered joint industrial complex.

Pyongyang also allowed South Korean factory managers to inspect equipment in the Kaesong factory park, just over the border in North Korea, and remove raw materials.

But, as many predicted, negotiations to re-start production after the three month suspension quickly bogged down on key issues.

Kim Kiwoong (L), the head of South Korea's working-level delegation, and his North Korean counterpart Park Chol Su (R) attend their meeting at Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee in Kaesong, North Korea, July 15, 2013.Kim Kiwoong (L), the head of South Korea's working-level delegation, and his North Korean counterpart Park Chol Su (R) attend their meeting at Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee in Kaesong, North Korea, July 15, 2013.
x
Kim Kiwoong (L), the head of South Korea's working-level delegation, and his North Korean counterpart Park Chol Su (R) attend their meeting at Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee in Kaesong, North Korea, July 15, 2013.
Kim Kiwoong (L), the head of South Korea's working-level delegation, and his North Korean counterpart Park Chol Su (R) attend their meeting at Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee in Kaesong, North Korea, July 15, 2013.
Pyongyang wants to immediately reopen the factories while Seoul wants guarantees the North will never again unilaterally suspend operations.

Lim Eul-chul, a professor of North Korean studies at Kyungnam University, said if the complex is closed permanently due to the failure of the talks, there would be nothing left between the two Koreas as there is no other traffic, contact, trade or economic cooperation. Therefore, he said, the uncertainty of inter-Korean relations would increase and military tensions would also be heightened.

South Korean vehicles loaded with goods arrive from North Korea's Kaesong industrial complex at the customs, immigration and quarantine office near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, April 27, 2013.South Korean vehicles loaded with goods arrive from North Korea's Kaesong industrial complex at the customs, immigration and quarantine office near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, April 27, 2013.
x
South Korean vehicles loaded with goods arrive from North Korea's Kaesong industrial complex at the customs, immigration and quarantine office near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, April 27, 2013.
South Korean vehicles loaded with goods arrive from North Korea's Kaesong industrial complex at the customs, immigration and quarantine office near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, April 27, 2013.
The factories have been shut since April when Pyongyang withdrew its 53,000 workers. South Korean factory managers left the following month.

North Korea blamed the shutdown on South Korea for what it said were insults to its dignity and increased tensions from annual South Korea-United States military exercises.

Pyongyang was responding to tighter United Nations sanctions for launching a rocket in December and in February conducting its third, and largest, nuclear test.

Kaesong Joint Industrial Complex

-Started producing goods in 2004
-Employs about 53,000 North Koreans
-120 South Korean businesses operate there
-Hailed as rare example of North/South cooperation
-Generates $2 billion in trade annually for North
-Located 10 kilometers north of border
Besides a guarantee from the North to keep Kaesong open, Seoul also wants Pyongyang to allow international investment in Kaesong to better ensure stable operations.

Lim Eul-chul said Pyongyang has shown no interest in involving outside investors.

He said North Korea does not want to give the benefits to foreign companies so it is difficult for them to join the complex. However, he said if they did agree it would likely be Chinese companies invited first followed by European companies.

He said China cooperates and has exchanges with North Korea and the two Koreas consider Europe more flexible on the issue of sanctions imposed by the international community.

Kaesong opened in 2004 as part of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's engagement and aid to North Korea, known as the “Sunshine Policy.”  
  
The factory zone kept running through periods of high tensions. Production continued in 2010 when a North Korean torpedo was blamed for sinking a South Korean Navy ship, killing 46 sailors, and Pyongyang shelled a southern island, killing four people.

The Kaesong complex suspension has cost South Korean businesses and the North Korean government hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Nonetheless, North Korean Studies professor Kim Yong-hyun of Dongguk University said the gap between the two Korea's positions will be tough to narrow.

He said changes outside of the Korean peninsula, such as the resumption of six-party talks, the efforts of the United States and China, and pressure from the international community would make the normalization of Kaesong industrial complex possible. If the external environment is improved, he said, it would have a positive effect on normalizing the Kaesong complex as well as on inter-Korean relations.

North Korea abandoned stalled six-party talks in 2009 aimed at negotiating an end to its nuclear ambitions.

Pyongyang's veteran nuclear negotiator last month told Chinese officials the North was willing to re-engage in the talks with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

But, South Korea and the U.S. say they need to first see actions by North Korea to demonstrate it is serious about giving up its nuclear programs.

VOA Seoul Bureau producer Youmi Kim contributed to this report.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid