Kaesong Park open for business: North and South Korea resume cooperative project

Inter-Korean industrial complex reopens after months of political negotiation

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The Independent Online

North and South Korea resumed operations at Kaesong Park, their last remaining joint project, in a move that signals an apparent cooling of tensions between the two countries.

The industrial complex, which sits just inside North Korea and represents a key source of revenue for Pyongyang, houses 123 South Korean factories and employs more than 50,000 North Koreans.

Trucks and cars have been seen crossing the border from South to North Korea and around 800 South Koreans are due to resume work at around half of Kaesong’s factories, in what both countries are calling a “trial restart”.

North Korea withdrew all of its workers from the jointly-run centre in April when relations between the two deteriorated following the North’s test launching of nuclear weapons.

Following months of faltering discussions, the two countries have now established a joint management committee to run operations at Kaesong.

Negotiations remain ongoing, with hopes that the countries will also strike a deal on the future use of internet and external mobile phones inside the complex – communications usually banned by the Northern pariah state.

Kaesong has struggled to lure foreign investors to its site in the past six months and it is hoped that improved communications inside the North Korean industrial park would improve the international image of the complex.

Meanwhile, the relationship between the two countries remains fraught elsewhere on the border. A South Korean civilian was today shot by South Korean soldiers having tried to swim across the border to the North.

Technically the Korean peninsula remains in a state of war after the 1950-3 conflict ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.

Last week officials in Seoul confirmed that a South Korean fisherman abducted by North Korea in 1972 had escaped and returned to his home country after 41 years of captivity.