Pyongyang urges Seoul to discuss Kaesong restart

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Pyongyang urges Seoul to discuss Kaesong restart

In what could be a move to ease tensions, North Korea urged Southern businessmen running factories in the Kaesong Industrial Complex to visit Pyongyang and discuss resumption of the operation of the inter-Korean venture park which has been shuttered for more than a month.

The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, a North Korean mouthpiece, said they will discuss the matter of the complex if the Southern business owners visit it, effectively allowing them to cross the border in the midst of strained inter-Korean relations.

“The Southern government should open up the way for the businessmen to the Kaesong Industrial District,” an unnamed spokesman of the committee said in a statement yesterday. “We have already approved the visit of the business owners at the complex, and if they enter there, we will proceed with any negotiations in regards to the normalization of the industrial district, including the matter of the exit of completed products.

“The Southern government doesn’t have to worry about the safety of the businessmen,” it said. “Even if they are not sure about that, they can let [Southern] officials of the Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee accompany them.”

Previously, when the last seven Southern businessmen left the Kaesong complex on May 3, North Korea said they would allow them to visit the factory later and retrieve their remaining materials out of the complex, such as raw materials and completed merchandise.

The General Bureau for Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone, a North Korean organization in charge of the inter-Korean factory park, said this in an interview with the official Korean Central News Agency on May 15. The bureau said they even suggested a specific date for the businessmen to enter.

However, the South’s Ministry of Unification, in charge of all inter-Korean interactions, said that they couldn’t allow the businessmen to enter because the Northern officials didn’t give any official notice to the Southern government.

When it comes to the upcoming anniversary of the June 15 inter-Korean summit in 2000, the committee also urged Seoul to allow a South Korean civic group to hold an inter-Korean event with its Northern branch.

“How is it possible that an event to mark the day of the June 15 Joint Declaration announcement could trigger a South-South conflict?” the committee said.


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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