중앙데일리

Two Koreas jointly to visit foreign industrial sites

Nov 27,2009
In an unexpected move that could point to a breakthrough in stalled inter-Korean talks, officials from the two Koreas will take a joint tour through industrial complexes in China and Vietnam next month to seek ways to improve the Kaesong Industrial Complex north of the border.

The Unification Ministry announced yesterday that 10 officials from each country will visit China and Vietnam for about 10 days in mid-December. Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said the two Koreas will continue to discuss detailed itineraries and the makeup of the delegations. Chun added that the trip will be financed by the South’s inter-Korean cooperation fund. It is the third such joint trip to overseas industrial sites, but the first during the Lee Myung-bak administration. The previous two trips took place in June 2005 and March 2007.

The two Koreas have held four rounds of mostly fruitless working-level discussions on Kaesong this year and wrangled over land use fees and wage increases. During the second meeting in June, the South proposed a joint overseas trip, and Chun said the North recently agreed. “We hope the trip will allow the two Koreas to build a consensus on stable development of the Kaesong complex,” he said. “The officials will study legal structures, incentives designed to draw investments and customs clearance. We expect Kaesong to grow into a globally competitive complex.”

While it appears intent on improving inter-Korean ties at Kaesong, Seoul is in no hurry to resume suspended tourism to the North’s Mount Kumgang. The South Korean government for the first time tied the Mount Kumgang tours to international sanctions, saying providing cash payments for the program would run counter to an existing United Nations Security Council resolution.

Speaking to reporters late Wednesday, a high-ranking Unification Ministry official said Seoul was reviewing the possibility of replacing cash with goods to pay North Korea for tours to Kumgang. “The issue of compensating the North for the tourism is related to UN Security Council Resolution 1874,” the official said.

He was referring to the resolution adopted in June, following North Korea’s second nuclear test in late May. The resolution states that member states must not provide financial assistance to North Korea, except for “humanitarian and developmental purposes directly addressing civilian needs.” The resolution also says that UN members must not provide “public financial support” for North Korea where such aid “could contribute to the country’s nuclear-related or ballistic missile-related or other [weapons of mass destruction]-related programs or activities.”

The Kumgang tours have been suspended since July of last year after a female South Korean tourist was fatally shot by a North Korean soldier in a nearby restricted zone. Last week, the North sent a message through Hyundai Group, the South Korean operator of the tours, that it wanted to talk to the South about the resumption of the tours, but Seoul has been lukewarm to the overture. The Mount Kumgang tour had been regarded as a major cash cow for North Korea. Since it is difficult to verify the use of cash in the North, the question of the program’s possible violation of the resolution has been raised in the past.

When the North made the proposal through Hyundai, one government official said he was “none too pleased” with the North because it could have sent its message through official channels.

Earlier this week, North Korea’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee charged that the “ulterior intention” of South Korea was to not resume the Mount Kumgang tours and accused Seoul of showing a “very dishonest attitude.”


By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]






dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장