[EDITORIALS]The lines are open ― for nowAs of May 31, it will be possible to make direct calls, by land-based telephone lines from South Korea to the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North. Power and communication lines between the Koreas, disconnected for more than half a century of confrontation, will be restored. This is an historic event with significant symbolic meaning. We hope that such connections will spread all over North Korea, and eventually lead to the long-desired reunification of our countries.
Among other things, the reconnection means there is a quality infrastructure within the Kaesong complex, and therefore a basis for stable production. But it is also true that prospects for the industrial complex are not very bright. The North Korean nuclear issue has raised tensions on the peninsula, and inter-Korean talks have not been held for months. It is fortunate that economic cooperation continues for now, but how long it will do so is an open question.
It is said that Washington has affirmed the Kaesong project at the pilot level, but is resistant to further development. Washington is said to have advised against having high expectations for the project. This contradicts the South Korean government’s belief that increased economic cooperation between the Koreas can help resolve the nuclear issue. For the project to advance, this difference in views between Seoul and Washington should not be allowed to become a major conflict. This is where persuation is needed from Seoul.
The biggest obstacle to Kaesong is the nuclear issue, which can only be resolved when Pyongyang gives up its nuclear weapons programs. North Korea is attempting to alleviate its people’s suffering by way of several market-based projects it has introduced since initiating economic reform in 2002.
One such project was to lease one of its major military sites ― the Kaesong site ― to South Koreans. Of course, the importance of the nuclear issue is not limited to whether Kaesong succeeds or fails. The whole world is promising economic aid to North Korea if it gives up its nuclear programs. Pyongyang should open its heart as soon as possible if it truly wants its people to live a better life.
The whole world, in one voice, is telling North Korea that having nuclear weapons will not solve the thousands of problems that the Stalinist state faces. Pyongyang should listen.