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Resumption of Kaesong complex must include foreign companies to avoid risk of abrupt suspension: ex-minister

All News 14:31 February 18, 2021

SEOUL, Feb. 18 (Yonhap) -- A former South Korean unification minister called for the inclusion of foreign companies when pushing to reopen the now-shuttered industrial complex in North Korea's border town of Kaesong, saying it will help prevent the risk of the two Koreas abruptly pulling out of the project.

Jeong Se-hyun, former unification minister and current executive vice chairperson of the presidential National Unification Advisory Council, made the remarks Thursday during a virtual seminar urging for the reopening of the complex.

"We have to come up with ideas that are appealing to North Korea. We need to explore ways to avoid U.N. sanctions and to make the complex international, which would also make North Korea less concerned (about the fate of the complex)," Jeong said.

Hosting foreign companies at the factory park would be a way to internationalize the complex, Jeong said, adding that it would prevent North Korea or the "South Korean government from pulling out abruptly as it did during the Park Geun-hye administration."

In February 2016, then President Park closed the Kaesong Industrial Complex in retaliation against the North's nuclear and missile provocations. The Kaesong complex had been considered one of the most tangible symbols of inter-Korean reconciliation.

"We can bring in China to invest in the Kaesong Complex or Southeast Asian countries that are close with North Korea, if necessary," he added.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed during a summit in Pyongyang in September 2018 to reopen the Kaesong industrial park, along with a tour program to Mount Kumgang on the North's east coast, as soon as conditions are met.

Those projects, however, have remained stalled amid little progress in the North's denuclearization negotiations with the United States.

Jeong Se-hyun, executive vice chairman of the presidential National Unification Advisory Council, speaks during a meeting in Seoul on Feb. 11, 2020, to call for the reopening of the shuttered joint industrial complex in the North Korean city of Kaesong. (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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