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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 271 (July 18, 2013)

All Headlines 10:29 July 18, 2013

*** INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS

S. Koreans Visit Inter-Korean Industrial Park for 2nd Day to Retrieve Materials

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korean businessmen visited the inter-Korean industrial park in Kaesong for a second consecutive day to bring back finished products and raw manufacturing materials, the government said on July 13.

Ministry of Unification that handles relations with the socialist country said 115 businessmen and workers crossed the demilitarized zone (DMZ) with 112 vehicles earlier in the day to retrieve materials from the joint venture that has remained idle for over three months.

On July 12, personnel from 44 companies using around 100 trucks brought back 145 tons worth of finished and half-finished goods. The move was made possible by an agreement reached last weekend when the two Koreas agreed in principle to reopen the complex that remains the only viable economic link between the two sides.

All operations at the complex came to a halt on April 9 when the North ordered all of its 53,000 laborers not to report to work in the midst of heighten cross-border tensions.

The ministry said all those that went to Kaesong, located just north of the DMZ, along with 40 administrative personnel, will return later in the day. It did not say how many tons of materials will be brought back.

It said no crossings will take place on Sunday, with movement to resume Monday when Seoul and Pyongyang will sit down for a third round of talks to normalize the complex.

Seoul has insisted on strong safeguards to prevent another work stoppage in the future, while Pyongyang has called for the immediate resumption of operations once all preparations have been completed.

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President Park: Onus Is on N. Korea to Resolve Kaesong's Suspension

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye says she won't rush to reopen a jointly run industrial complex in North Korea unless the socialist regime makes a firm commitment never to shut down the complex unilaterally again.

Park made the remark in an interview with the French magazine Politique Internationale, stressing that the fate of the factory park in the North's border city of Kaesong depends on "North Korea's choice." The interview, conducted on June 9, was published in the magazine's current edition.

On the day, the presidential office released the questions and answers from the interview.

"It is North Korea that suspended the Kaesong complex and it is also North Korea that is responsible for resolving this," Park said. "I won't repeat the vicious cycle of North Korea unilaterally breaking its promise and the complex's operations being suspended."

Earlier July, the two sides agreed in principle to restart the factory park in the North's border city of Kaesong. The complex was suspended in early April after Pyongyang withdrew all of its 53,000 workers from the 123 South Korean factories in the zone amid heightened security tensions.

The sides have since held two rounds of follow-up negotiations but failed to reach an agreement on conditions for reopening the complex, with the South demanding Pyongyang take specific steps to guarantee it won't unilaterally shut down the complex again, and the North calling for its immediate reopening.

"Even if it takes time, I intend to resolve the Kaesong industrial complex issue in a way where international rules and principles work," Park told the French magazine. "In the long term, that will also be in North Korea's interests."

Should the complex ultimately end up a failure, North Korea will face a situation where no country in the world would be willing to trust Pyongyang and make investments in the country, Park said.

"If North Korea shows a genuinely changed attitude, I also have a plan to internationalize the Kaesong complex in cooperation with the international community and move the Kaesong complex forward in a more stable manner," she said.

Park also said the international community should work together to help North Korea realize that bad behavior won't be rewarded.

"We have repeatedly engaged in the bad practice of rewarding North Korea when it creates a crisis with provocations," Park said. "I intend to break such a vicious cycle."

Asked to pick a foreign leader with whom she has developed close friendship, Park chose German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Park says she feels close to Merkel because both of them are female politicians who majored in engineering in college. Park said she first met with Merkel in 2000 and has since developed a friendship with her.

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S. Korean FM Stresses 'Zero Tolerance' for Nuclear N. Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se stressed on July 15 a strong deterrence based on a zero-tolerance policy against North Korea and asked for international efforts to induce change in its unruly neighbor.

"This about-face to hold talks (by North Korea) raises some doubts about its sincerity," Yun said during a luncheon held in central Seoul with diplomatic corps representing 83 countries, referring to Pyongyang's recent shift to dialogue mode.

"We, along with the international community, will strongly adhere to maintaining deterrence against North Korea and not tolerate its nuclear development," he added.

After months of simmering tensions on the Korean Peninsula triggered by its third nuclear test in February and bellicose threats against South Korea and the U.S., Pyongyang shifted to a charm offensive, offering talks with Seoul and Washington.

Earlier in the day, the two Koreas held their third round of working-level talks in the North Korean border city of Kaesong aimed at resuming operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex that have been halted for more than three months.

The inter-Korean factory zone was suspended in April when North Korea, citing heightened tensions that it said were caused by Seoul, pulled all its 53,000 workers from the complex. South Korean officials in Kaesong also withdrew following North's unilateral decision to shut down the joint complex.

While calling on Pyongyang to walk the path of "genuine change," South Korea's top diplomat also asked the international community "to create an environment in which North Korea has no other option but to change."

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N. Korea Informs S. Korea of Water Release from Border Dam

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea informed Seoul on July 15 that it will release water from its Mount Kumgang dam to control the rise in water levels brought on by heavy rains, the government said.

The Ministry of Unification said Pyongyang notified Seoul through official communication channels running through the neutral border village of Panmunjom that the dam will be releasing water at 6 p.m.

"This is the third time that the North has given the South advance notice," a ministry official said. He said the North notified Seoul in 2002 and 2004.

The source did not elaborate on how many gates the North will open and what effect it will have on the South.

The dam, officially called the Imnam Dam in the North, was constructed from 1986 through 2003 and is located just north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which separates the two Koreas. It is close to Mount Kumgang, a scenic resort on North Korea's east coast.

The dam may hold up to 2.6 billion tons of water and its water feeds the Han River that flows through South Korea's capital city of Seoul.

Seoul Korea had been concerned about the integrity of the dam and its possible use as a means to flood large parts of the country, so they built the Peace Dam in 2005 just south of the DMZ.

The ministry, meanwhile, said the North's warning has been sent to related agencies in the South, which has been coping with torrential rains in the past few days.
(END)

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