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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid