NORTH and South Korea held a second round of talks Tuesday on reopening their Kaesong joint industrial zone—five months after it was shut down during soaring military tensions.
The newly formed Kaesong joint committee first met last week but was unable to reach any agreement on the timing for resuming operations at the complex.
One apparent stumbling block was a South Korean request for North Korea to provide compensation to those companies hurt by the park’s closure.
Tuesday’s second round of talks began at 10 a.m. in Kaesong, which lies 10 kilometres (six miles) over the border in North Korea.
“We will pick up where we left off last time, and focus on ensuring that our businessmen can engage in their activities in a free and comfortable atmosphere,” South Korean chief delegate Kim Ki-Woong told reporters in Seoul before leaving for the meeting.
Established in 2004 as a rare symbol of inter-Korean cooperation, Kaesong had come through a number of crises on the Korean peninsula unscathed.
But in April, as tensions escalated following the North’s third nuclear test, Pyongyang effectively shut down operations by withdrawing the 53,000 North Korean workers employed at the 123 South Korean plants.
The two Koreas agreed last month to work together to resume operations at the zone, which is an important source of hard currency for the cash-strapped regime in Pyongyang.
As part of the agreement, the North accepted the South’s demand that Kaesong be opened to foreign investors—a move seen by Seoul as a guarantee against the North shutting the complex down again in the future. AFP