Putting ties back on trackThe Kaesong Industrial Complex - the last vestige of inter-Korean economic cooperation - will resume operations next Monday, five months after North Korea unilaterally pulled its entire workforce from the joint industrial park in April. After 20 hours of heated talks, South and North Korean authorities struck a deal on its resumption, with media on both sides delivering the news immediately. North Korea’s speedy reporting - early in the morning - proves how desperately it has been waiting for the reopening of the industrial park.
Both sides have been mired in a tedious tug of war throughout the negotiations to get the derailed complex back on track. In the meantime, South Korean companies had to suffer massive damages while North Korean workers couldn’t receive wages for their labor. But the five-month hiatus does not necessarily translate into unmitigated misfortune for both sides.
South and North Korean representatives indeed spoke their minds to hammer out an abiding agreement on the reopening of the park. They also made some tangible achievements in the areas of traffic, communications and customs clearance, which urgently needed to be fixed. In addition, both sides are expected to press ahead with the globalization of the Kaesong complex. All the developments herald a better future for the park. We hope a swift expansion of the park helps pave the way for the ultimate unification of our divided land.
To make the dream come true, however, North Korea must agree that it will not take the park hostage again in order to put political pressures on us. Pyongyang should be well aware that if the joint venture were to be shut down again, it would almost certainly lead to a permanent closure. The North must concentrate on cultivating the park with purely economic logic to promote economic cooperation between Seoul and Pyongyang.
After the long-awaited consensus, South and North Korea must make efforts to enhance bilateral relations, including putting reunions of families separated during the 1950-53 Korean War - slated for Sept. 25-30 - on a permanent basis, along with efforts to resume the Mount Kumgang tour programs and new investments in the Kaesong park. We hope all these efforts eventually lead to full-fledged economic cooperation. But let there be no doubt that North Korea must also give up its nuclear ambitions in the process.