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 37.

    I would not even say "Thank you".

    Best for the South Koreans to build a brand new factory within easy sight of the demarcation line and truly give it some fanfare.
    North Korea will bite their own knuckles.

    North Korea is a massively gross importer from China and has not got its financial status in order because it is far too heavily militarized. China will not be pleased for plain stupidity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    I can understand SKorea wanting to appease and keeping the Kaesong lifeline to its vile neighbours open. But, really, by now, they should have realised that they cannot deal with the loonies in Pyongyang--let Kaesong rot, SKorea doesn't need it, only the North need it. NKorea is a blight on the face of the world--and I believe that it's only ally is a similar blight : yes, we all know who I mean !

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    What chance has any N Korea got when its run by an idiot who struts around stamping his feet and expecting huge waves of applause and adulation.

    Hopefully he will end up like Ceaucescu.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    I hope this does lead to some progress, but I fear its another ploy by North Korea to get the subject back in the world spotlight.
    Hope I am wrong though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    After his dramatic successes as Middle East peace envoy, surely this is another job for Tony Blair to sort out?

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    The kettles BBC, what about the kettles!?

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    South Korea got SAMSUNG et al!
    North Korea got NOTHING. (sorry they know how to march)
    Where do YOU want to live?

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    South Korea is a wealthy country and not suffering the consequences of the closure. If I were them, I'd let leave the status-quo exactly as it is."

    On the other hand, if North Korea finally reunifies with the South, once South career gets it's hands on that cheap and conditioned labour force from the North, it will become a World economic power that will frighten even China.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Kaesong, should be used as a peaceful tool which can hopefully lead to the Koreas being unified in some way, both sides are as hypocritical over unification as each other however through Kaesong hopefully the hypocrisy can be reduced that little bit and can lead to a safer pennisular but also unified working zone which can lead to a unified border perhaps one day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    My Dad's Regiment fought in Korea amongst other things covering the retreat of the Gloucester Regiment during the Imjin River Battles.
    Dad missed out on the fighting but he knew some of the men that died.

    Just maybe their sacrifice has improved the lives of South Koreans.

    I hope peace prevails otherwise some other poor sods will die defending the same bloody Hills.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    There's more of US than S. Korea in this situation. It's hardly likely to nudge US toward dialogue; N. Korea has remained open to DIRECT TALKS with US. US is handling this situation precariously & I feel incorrectly.
    Meanwhile, North's FM Kim Kye-Gwan is visiting Moscow to discuss resumption of 6-party nuclear talks. Last month, Kim discussed restarting talks with China's FM Wang Yi.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    South Korea is a wealthy country and not suffering the consequences of the closure. If I were them, I'd let leave the status-quo exactly as it is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    While it is in good faith to deal with NK, i don't see NK as being mature or clear of mind enough to reciprocate. It may be less tenuous to move the industrial park rather than to keep trying to save an addict from themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Talking can't be bad but removing sanctions would also make NK more comfortable with its neighbour.

    I know if my neighbour's powerful allies (ie US) didn't like my ways and used my neighbour's house as a base from which to make me cave in, I wouldn't change because I just wouldn't accept being bullied.

    Both of these parties, NK & SK(ie the US), need to respect and accept the other

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.


    Or perhaps the easy to spout "analysis" on the new NK leader is all many people consider as possible.....

    ....maybe his actions were not intended to impress/threaten anyone outside NK & were just him burnishing his credentials with the army as strong man to keep their support in place.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    the new leader of DPRK tried following the script his dad and grandpa used with success but was a huge fail due to inexperience and believiing his own internal PR. Outside of his own little kingdom he doesn't realize respect has to be earned.
    South Korea will do just enough to keep from letting the war heat up again. most of us have relatives or in-laws in the North

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Based on a whim and contrary to international law, when the US can influence several other sovereign nations in Europe to take collective action to prevent the President of yet another sovereign nation, Bolivia, from flying through their air space, thereby forcing the plane to land, one has to reassess which "tyrannical regime" the world should be more fearful of.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    A waste of time. Maintain the sanctions & let NK self destruct. The world will be no poorer without it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    #16 Because Dear Fatty and his controllers are sat on top in NK. The only unification they are interested in is the one which SK is conquered by NK and they can lord it over even more peasants. Peaceful reunification would mean the whole truth coming out about NK and more importantly getting in to its citizens. At that point the leadership have two choices: suicide or wait for the mob to get them.


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