Get Kaesong back on track

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Get Kaesong back on track

President Park Geun-hye has ordered the Ministry of Unification to propose a meeting with North Korean authorities to retrieve a large amount of finished products and parts supplies left behind in the Kaesong Industrial Complex. In a cabinet meeting yesterday, the president underscored a need for revolutionary change of the industrial park in the path toward the prosperity of a unified Korea. Her remarks came from the deepening worries about the possibility of a prolonged suspension of the park. The government is expected to offer a dialogue to North Korea sooner or later.

The standoff over the complex originates with Pyongyang’s irrational decision to pull out the entire North Korean workforce from the park for political reasons and a subsequent ban on South Korean workers entering the area. The North exacerbated the situation to the extent that South Korean workers had no choice but to return home after Pyongyang stuck to an inhumane position by blocking Seoul’s food and other necessities to the South Korean workers remaining there. In the run-up to the suspension of the complex, both sides have been engaged in a tense - and hopeless - tug of war. The confrontation between Seoul and Pyongyang only leads to a gloomy prospect for the last symbol of inter-Korean economic cooperation.

We hope the president’s proposal for talks can find a real breakthrough to the deadlock. Until the disastrous shutdown, the complex was seen as a foundation for consolidating a long-term cooperative relationship despite persistent conflict since the Korean War in 1953. But the Kaesong crisis explicitly shows that even the single biggest icon of economic interchange can morph into a symbol of discord when both sides refuse to keep it intact.

Fortunately, it appears that both sides do not have intentions to erase the silver lining once and for all, because they don’t want a colossal breakdown of cooperative relations over the long haul. Then, both countries must regain prudence and wisdom to avert a catastrophic ending. They must keep in mind that if the shutdown goes on for one or two more months, it will be difficult to resume the park operation. We urge both sides to break the stalemate and normalize it before it’s too late.
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