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N. Korea Wants to Maintain Consistent Dialogue With SK

Posted April. 23, 2009 08:38,   


North Korea apparently wants to keep talking about the inter-Korean industrial complex in Kaesong, according to the full text of North Korea’s notice at an official meeting between the two Koreas released yesterday.

Whether the two sides will hold another meeting remains uncertain since the North mentioned South Korea’s full-pledged participation in the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative, but Pyongyang did not repeat its harsh criticism.

The North also expressed its will to maintain the complex, though indirectly.

According to the notice obtained by The Dong-A Ilbo yesterday, Pyongyang said before urging Seoul to reconsider the benefits to South Korean companies in the complex, “South Korea’s PSI entry, which we will consider a declaration of war, has soured inter-Korean relations.”

“South Korean companies have earned lots of money while North Korean employees have earned just petty cash. We cannot maintain the current terms of the contract since we have rarely gained benefits via the joint industrial project.”

The notice also said, “We’ll raise the land rent and labor costs. We have sincerely made many efforts to maintain the project but South Korea says we will not spoil the project because of an acute need of money.”

Seoul and Pyongyang had agreed that South Korea would pay rent on the land from 2014, but the North wants the rent to start from next year. Pyongyang also wants big wage hikes for North Korean employees in the complex.

“We’ll make an all-out effort to smoothly run the Kaesong industrial complex,” the North said.

While sending the notice, Pyongyang urged additional official meetings with Seoul. According to South Korean government sources, the North proposed to decide the date of the next official meeting and another round of official talks this week.

Pyongyang even asked Seoul to respond as soon as possible while the South Korean delegation was returning home via the Customs, Immigration & Quarantine Office after the 22-minute meeting Monday.

Seoul said Pyongyang is using a carrot-and-stick policy and formulating countermeasures. An official at the South Korean presidential office said, “The meeting will provide momentum for inter-Korean dialogue. We’ll analyze North Korea’s intention but we believe it doesn`t want to ruin everything.”

“We have a consistent policy that bars Pyongyang from having a free hand. Given that a consistently hawkish stance cannot be a cure-all, however, we’ll deal with North Korea flexibly.”

At a general meeting of the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee of the South Korean National Assembly, Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said yesterday, “We’ll decide on joining the PSI after considering all conditions. Trust the government’s decision.”

“We’ll bring the issue surrounding Hyundai Asan’s employee detained in North Korea for 24 days to the U.N. Human Rights Council, and we’ll follow procedures of Economic and Social Council Resolution 1503.”

yongari@donga.com mhpark@donga.com