South Korea proposes Kaesong talks with North

Visitors look at products made at Kaesong industrial complex in North Korea, displayed at the unification observation post in Paju near the border village of Panmunjom, that has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, South Korea, 6 June 2013 The factory zone was the biggest contributor to inter-Korean trade

South Korea has offered working-level talks with the North on reopening the jointly-run Kaesong industrial zone.

Seoul made the proposal a day after Pyongyang said South Korean officials could visit the closed complex to inspect and maintain equipment.

Work at the factory park, which was a rare symbol of North-South co-operation, was halted in April amid high regional tensions.

Attempts to hold high-level talks last month failed on procedural grounds.

"The government wants talks to be held at the truce village of Panmunjom," South Korea's Ministry of Unification said in a statement.

"Seoul's stance remains consistent and centres on government authorities resolving all outstanding issues through dialogue."

It said the offer of talks was made via a North-South hotline that was cut by Pyongyang in June but has now been restored.

North Korea has yet to respond to the offer.

Operations suspended

South Korea proposed that the talks take place on Saturday.

Prior to operations being suspended, there were around 120 South Korean businesses in the factory park, which had provided the North with a source of much-needed hard currency.

On Wednesday, North Korea said it would allow South Korean companies to enter the complex, which is located just inside North Korea, to protect their equipment from damage in the rainy season.

Kaesong Industrial Zone

  • Launched in 2003, largely financed by the South to increase co-operation
  • More than 120 factories employ North Koreans in manufacturing industries, with goods exported to the South
  • Complex as a whole produced $470m worth of goods in 2012 - the biggest contributor to inter-Korean trade
  • South Korean companies pay more than $80m a year in wages to North Korean workers

The offer came after some South Korean firms threatened to abandon the zone entirely and relocate their equipment.

A spokesman representing electronic and machinery makers in Kaesong had said: "Kaesong must be reopened or [the factories] have to move elsewhere".

Pyongyang withdrew its 53,000 workers from the complex in April, apparently angered by tightened UN sanctions in the wake of its nuclear test in February, and annual South Korea-US military drills.

North Korea also prevented South Korean workers from entering the joint commercial zone.

The last South Korean workers left the zone on 3 May.

In June, officials from North and South Korea agreed to hold their first high-level government meeting since 2007, focused on resuming operations at Kaesong industrial park.

However, the planned talks were suspended after the two sides disagreed on the composition of the delegations.

North Korea then proposed high-level talks with the US.

However, both Washington and Seoul responded coolly to the offer, with the US saying that Pyongyang would be judged "by its actions and not its words".

Meanwhile, South Korea said that it would increase its cyber-security budget from 5 trillion won ($4.38bn; £2.88bn) to 10 trillion won ($8.76bn; £5.76bn), and train 5,000 cyber security experts.

North Korea has been blamed for previous cyber attacks on South Korea, including an attack on six South Korean banks and broadcasters in March that affected 32,000 computers.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Kaesong is such a loser. Long rule till retirement at 70 BARACK OBAMA. Barack is just so cool.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Number 14, it is not two nations, it is one! That is the very sad thing here. Cannot these numbskulls who run NK realise that they should extend the hand of friendship to the free and wealthy South, and suggest they sit down to discuss how they might all become one again? Tinkering with the detail only leads to setting the scene for more future conflict.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    The Merry Go Round starts up again.

    The Pillsbury Doughboy Republic of Non Compliance (PDRNC) want something - maybe the sugar is running out. Time will tell if China is meaningful in its word to reign in PDRNC. I doubt it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Best of luck to both Nations.
    I hope things get sorted between the 2 nations and we can have some peace ... its a kios everywhere Egypt, Syria, Iraq, snowden case ....

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    10. I think it is China, who are playing Korea like a fiddle
    I think you'll find that it has been and in the future will be the US that plays Korea like a fiddle. They will try to stir up trouble to keep instability close to the borders of China, thus benefiting themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Can we please stop kow towing to North Korea and stop providing them with any aid whatsoever until they agree to act in a civilised and cooperative manner and enter into discussion in an adult and responsible way

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    @10. levap - I think you have your facts wrong. China participates in UN peacekeeping forces, and they don't send troops into many wars around the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    The real question: Is it China or Korea? I think it is China, who are playing Korea like a fiddle, whenever they need, and suits them on the world scene. After all China has the largest standing army against whom? They never participate much in peacekeeping role around the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Has an older wiser head explained the economic facts of life to the supreme leader and master of the universe?

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Dialogue to resolve conflict and prevent war...Not dialogue after 10 years of war with thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars speant - it's a novel idea, lets hope it catches on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Kaesong is just another life-line to an exceptionally corrupt regime. As long as the regime is kept afloat the people of NK will suffer. It's important to keep the door open to dialogue, but the regime is not remotely interested in compromise, at least not for another generation (Kim Jong-un is young so could be a number of decades), and its people/culture isn't the kind to rise up against it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Whilst Europe is in turmoil, riots are errupting, theres no money etc, The Koeans are 'talking' about sharing. This is great, but with all the hate filled propoganda fed to the N Koreans over the years, it won't be easy for them to now 'just accept' change however slight it is. It would be good to have a heartening story of peace in our world, but sadly history tells us it'll all end in tears

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I don't know whats wrong with Pyongyang.
    its time for a revolution in NK!

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I don't think NK is interested in talking to be honest, however they don't like the sanctions imposed on them. Whether that is enough to force NK to the negotiation table, I don't know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Hopefully the North has realised that childish temper tantrums will get them nowhere except into a war no one wins. We shall see what the Pillsbury Doughboy and his puppeteers come up with. Can't say I am holding out much hope based on previous form.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I hope that this time North Korea does answer the calls, but I also hope that SK does also listen to some northern demands (but not the extreme ones). South Korea has to take the talks more seriously, because many people in SK that support Park's gov. and party really just don't see the importance of peace talks and the potential of unification. They see NK only as enemies, not as friends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    We can only hope that the two Koreas can find some form of unity over Kaesong. This could eventually progress to higher level talks which would be good for the whole Korean peninsula. Good luck to them.


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