Kaesong’s chance at revivalSeoul and Pyongyang plan to have a second round of working-level talks in Kaesong on Thursday. We expect that South Korean and North Korean authorities will both seek measures to rekindle the dying flame of the Kaesong Industrial Complex through the talks, which are being held at Pyongyang’s request.
First of all, North Korea must abandon its incorrect perception about the Kaesong Industrial Complex and take a new approach. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il advocated the complex, and signed the Oct. 4 Declaration, which outlines the need for inter-Korean economic cooperation. When the North Korean military was unwilling to move its base when the complex was created, it is believed Kim persuaded them to change their minds.
The complex has since become a symbol of cooperation between the South and the North, both of which reaped the economic benefits of their involvement. Back then, Kim made the right decision. Now, we must not allow the industrial park to become an object of increasing tension between South and North Korea.
When the Kim Jong-il era began in 1998, North Korea declared it would become a strong and prosperous country by attaining political, ideological, military and economic power that would allow it to escape its poor economy. If that is truly the goal, then it would be wrong for the North to damage the Kaesong complex. Hasn’t Pyongyang struggled so hard to normalize its ties with Washington for the purpose of becoming strong and prosperous? It is unbelievable that North Korea nonetheless keeps moving backward, further away from its own goals.
The leadership in Pyongyang must know that the kind of development made possible through the Kaesong complex is the only way to restore its economy. If it breaks inter-Korean agreements unilaterally and if the safety of the people from countries investing in North Korea is not protected, what country will invest in North Korea or cooperate with it on the economic front?
North Korea must take a rational approach to the Kaesong Industrial Complex issue. We hope the North will refrain from outrageous acts and remarks that break the trust of the international community, especially at the upcoming inter-Korean talks.
The North must also change its stance on the issue of Yoo, the South Korean it has detained since late March. Only then can dialogue continue.
North Korea can respond any way it wants. But when things go wrong because of its responses, the North must take responsibility for the consequences of its actions, including the livelihoods of 40,000 North Korean workers. It is also important for the North to realize that in South Korea as adversity has mounted, the idea of withdrawal from Kaesong has likewise gained momentum.
Before this round of talks gets under way, the government must be prepared for any possible moves the North could make.