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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid