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article imageOp-Ed: North and South Korea agree to talks to reopen industrial complex

By Ken Hanly     Jun 6, 2013 in Politics
Pyongyang - North and South Korea have agreed to hold talks aimed at reopening the Kaesong Industrial complex, a jointly run industrial area that was shut by North Korea during escalating tensions back in April.
The agreement has come quite quickly after North Korea asked for the talks . The North wants the talks to normalize commercial relations between the two countries. Both countries, but the North in particular, have been hurt by the breaking off of relations and closing of the Kaesong complex.
South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Jae proposed that the two sides should meet on June 12 in Seoul. Ryoo also asked that the North restore a border hotline that it had cut back in March. This agreement comes just a day before President Obama is set to meet the Chinese president Xi Jinping. China has been urging North Korea to resume talks on nuclear disarmament. Analysts hope that the Obama, Jinping meeting will help restart the talks.
The South had made a proposal for talks back in April but North Korea rejected the offer. Ryoo said: " We hope this can be an opportunity to build trust between the North and the South.” The offer was the largest concession so far from the North since the nuclear test in February set off sanctions and increasing threats from the North. Closing Kaesong deprived North Korea of scarce hard currency. What I find surprising is that the facility was ever closed in the first place and how long it has taken for it to reopen. The closure hurts the North more than the South.
Jo Dong Ho, a professor of North Korean Studies said: “North Korea has made this conciliatory gesture earlier than expected, and it seems that they are more desperate to boost the economy than anticipated.” The official Korean Central News Agency said that the North had made a "bold decision and sincere proposal" quoting a spokesperson for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea. The news agency said that the issue of reuniting families on both sides of the border could be discussed as well.
The Kaesong complex employs more than 53,000 North Koreans who work for 123 South Korean companies. Annual return to North Korea is about $100 million, says Yang Moo Jin a professor at the University of North Korean studies in Seoul. Operations have been suspended since April 8. While earlier rejecting government talks, the North had last month suggested that South Korean businessmen visit Kaesong for talks. Now they have gone a step further. This is one more positive move as tensions abate between the two countries.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Kaesong compl, North and South Korea relations, Seoul
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