Ban Ki-moon to pay a visit to Kaesong Complex

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Ban Ki-moon to pay a visit to Kaesong Complex

In a bid to ease inter-Korean tension, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that he will visit the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the last symbol of joint economic cooperation between Seoul and Pyongyang, on Thursday.

“The Kaesong Complex can be considered as a win-win model for North and South Korea,” he said on Tuesday during a press conference at the 2015 World Education Forum in Incheon, “where the two Koreas are through a mutually complementary method showing a good example. I hope such cooperation increases.”

His trip would mark the first time a UN leader has visited Kaesong. Ban, who previously reiterated his intention to visit Pyongyang to help ease inter-Korean tension, will also be the first secretary-general to visit North Korea in two decades.

“Keeping peace and security on the Korean Peninsula is one of the most important tasks of the UN secretary-general,” he said. “Dialogue on the Korean Peninsula is the only way to solve the problem.” In his keynote address at the conference, Ban said, “I have consistently expressed my readiness to visit Pyongyang if my visit is helpful.”

The last UN secretary-general to visit North Korea was by Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1993.

Ban previously visited Kaesong in 2006, when he served as South Korea’s foreign minister.

He plans to enter Kaesong - where he will tour the businesses there and greet North Korean workers - through the Dorasan Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Office, just south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in the border city of Paju, Gyeonggi.

The UN chief’s visit has raised anticipation that it could serve to help alleviate inter-Korean tensions, particularly after Pyongyang’s test-firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) earlier this month.

The two Koreas have also been in a prolonged dispute over wages for North Korean workers at the Kaesong complex. The two sides have wrangled since February, when Pyongyang unilaterally decided to raise the agreed upon monthly minimum wage for its workers.

Ban’s office said that the UN chief chose to visit Kaesong of his own volition but that it was too early to say if he would make a proper trip to Pyongyang during his term.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joognang.co.kr]

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