06/06/2013, 00.00
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Pyongyang and Seoul agree to reopen the Kaesong industrial park

Forced by the economic crisis and China, Kim Jong-un also open to dialogue on tourist access to Mount Geumgang and family reunification. First conciliatory gesture after recent round of nuclear threats.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - North and South Korea have decided to resume formal negotiations to reopen the Kaesong industrial park, shut down by Pyongyang in April.

The South today accepted the offer made by the North and published in the national media, as long as dialogue also restarts on Mount Geumgang, where a tourist center had been built, closed in 2008, after Northern soldiers killed a tourist. Dialogue may also resume the tradition of family reunification on both sides of the 38th parallel.

Pyongyang's offer, made with sweet and open words, is the first conciliatory gesture from leader Kim Jong-un after a series of nuclear threats against the South and the world, that began with a missile launch in December last year, followed by the resumption of nuclear tests in February, which led to a new round of UN sanctions, also approved by China, last ally of the North's dictatorship.

Commentators in the South say the North's opening are dictated by two reasons: the first is the dramatic economic situation of the country, close to disaster and despair. The reopening of the Kaesong industrial complex, in which 53 thousand workers from the North have been employed by 123 Southern companies for the past 10 years, brings an annual profit of 100 million U.S. dollars to Pyongyang.

The second reason is the refusal of China to continue to support Kim Jong-un from the economic point of view. On 24 May, the Chinese President Xi Jinping made clear to the North Korean envoy that he wants the resumption of talks on nuclear disarmament. In this way, the Kim regime has no other option but to cooperate with the South.

The North's choice in favor of dialogue comes a day before the meeting between Xi Jinping and Barack Obama in California, the first since Xi has takeover power. Washington has often asked China to bring North Korea "into line".

In a speech today, President of the South, Park Geun Hye asked Kim Jong-un to abandon the path of isolation, building trust with the North and becoming a "responsible member" of the international community.


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