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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid