Koreas Agree to Reopen Kaesong Industrial Complex

As North and South Korean negotiators shook hands over the final agreement to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex, it looks like the tension of the past five months is finally easing. Online reaction, which has always been outspoken about suspicions that South Korea is losing more than it gains from the agreement, cautiously welcomed the latest development and complimented the negotiating strategy of President Park Geun-hye.

From Yonhap News:

Koreas reach five-point agreement to reopen Kaesong Industrial Complex

On August 14th, South and North Korea adopted a five-point agreement to restart operations within the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The agreement was reached 133 days after the shutdown. The biggest sticking point during negotiations was how to obtain assurances that such a shutdown would not happen again in the future. In reaction to this concern, North and South publicly agreed not to shut down the complex again under any circumstances.

North Korea waits in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, saying, "please, stay a while..."

North Korea waits in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, saying, “please, stay a while…”

The final agreement included clauses stating that the South and the North will not restrict travel in and out of the complex, will not withdraw their workers, and will preserve the property of businesses within the complex regardless of any future disruptions. Our government initially asserted during negotiations that only the North should be the agent who guarantees stability of the industrial complex, however they ended up taking a compromise position.

The Koreas agreed to deal with the compensation problems for the companies damaged by the shutdown of the complex within the soon-to-be-formed ‘Inter-Korean Committee for the Kaesong Industrial Complex’. They also agreed to guarantee the personal security of personnel and business property, and resolve issues related to passage, communication and customs. Guarantees on freedom of use of the internet and mobile phones and a simplified customs procedure were also codified in the new agreement. The Koreas also agreed to adhere to the international standards for business activities to enhance the industrial complex’s competitiveness. Along these lines, they agreed to promote the entrance of foreign companies and improve systems related to taxes, wages and insurance. However, when the complex will actually reopen wasn’t stated in the agreement. The Koreas agreed to form a committee to implement the terms of the agreement in a timely manner. Kim Ki-woong, the chief South Korean delegate, and Park Cheol-su, the chief North Korean delegate, signed the final document.

The Ministry of Unification said the agreement is a significant step to guarantee the stability of the Kaesong Industrial Complex using a combined strategy. Businesses within the complex will now be able to secure guarantees via official written agreement, be able to rely on the new permanent inter-Korean committee for structural assurances, and benefit from the stability that will come from the participation of international organizations.

Comments from Naver:

ksj3****:

North Korea’s tantrums ended up getting them nothing but humiliation. Democratic United Party(DUP), that’s how you deal with North Korea! I guarantee you North Korea will not make lame threats again, ke.

sunj****:

This is a triumph of diplomacy based on solid principles…^^ I hope the inter-Korean relationship develops to meet international standards, haha.

c_mo****:

I’m honestly worried about whether North Korea will honor the agreement, seeing as how they have a history of ignoring formal agreements without hesitation.

sukc****:

Yes, be docile like that from now on. No more tantrums unless you wanna get hungry.

assa****:

Good job anyways. Please come up with follow-up measures to prevent another tantrum.

only****:

DUP and Unified Progressive Party, are you watching this?!

skyb****:

What if President Roh or Sinner Moon Jae-in was in charge;;…? Ke ke ke. They would have given out about 300~400 million dollars to young Jong-un and bowed to him… Time to rethink your strategy, DUP bastards.

kth1****:

The Park administration’s governance based on principles played an effective role in reopening the Kaesong Industrial Complex. That is worth several hundred billion won. The current government is doing a good job regarding the policy dealing with North Korea.

leeh****:

Big Sister Geun-hye is doing very well… Was there any better agreement than this in our history… Hey lefty commies, are you watching this?…

snow****:

Well done but it’s not as if they haven’t signed agreements before. If they unilaterally cancel the agreement, that is it… It should definitely become an international matter. If there are many countries involved in it, it will be harder for them to do whatever they want.. They can’t ignore the amount of foreign currency they earn through the complex.. Are you watching this, North Korean puppet army? This is the only way for you to live… Let’s keep it up..

lumb****:

It’s fortunate that it has all worked out so well! Kaesong business owners, you can’t find a skilled workforce who will work for ₩120,000 a month elsewhere! Think of that profit! However, North Korea is a special country that imposes high risks! Think carefully about your investment and take responsibility for your losses if trouble happens again! Don’t ask for help from our tax money! High risk and high profit investment is your own responsibility.

ena9****:

1. Guarantee of stable operation of the industrial complex
2. Guarantee of personal security and business property
3. Guarantee of business activities that meet international standards
3-1. Promoting the entrance of foreign companies
3-2. Holding presentation meetings for foreign investors
4. Installing the inter-Korean committee to implement the agreements
5. Consolidating institutional devices
North Korea has agreed on these points but will they honor their agreement? I’m still dubious because they have been quick to change their mind and make excuses. Do not be hasty just to reopen the complex. You need to make clear what the repercussions will be for North Korea if they violate the agreement. In case they do another nuke test, launch missiles, etc.

suar****:

They nullified the truce agreement on a whim. Will this half-hearted promise last??

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  • commander

    The agreement to reopen the Gaeseong Industrial Complex at the North Korean boeder city of the same name gives South Korea two lessons.

    Two former liberal administrations carried out engagement policy toward North Korea in the hope that increased economic exchanges would be the basis to induce changes in Pyongyang and the restraint in the North’s implementing military actions threatening South Korea.

    But the four-month suspensiin of the complex’s operation reveals the shakey foundations of the so-called Sunshine policy, giving Seoul a rude awakening that joint economic enterprise falling short of deep ecomomic interdepedence could fall victim to political maneurs.

    Anther lesson from the protracted suspension at Gaeseong is that five year hawish policy by the conservative administration toward the communist nation has provided ample ammunition for the belligerent regime to go bersk , say, with a missile launch in last December and a nuclear testing in Feburary.

    Drivne to a dead end by ties cutoff with Seoul, Washington and frayed relations with its main economic benefactor, the Stalinist nation turn to more provocative tactics to raise the ante for its nuclear development.

    The mere economic aid to Pyongyang cannot change thr North’s militaru forst policy, nor will the pressure policy against the dynastic country without a smart combination of stick and carrot be successful in drawing the hermatic country into the outside world.

    The Gaesong impasse shows the nescessity of a bipartisan consensus on the nation’s North Korea policy–one that will not change without changes of a person in the highest office.

    South Korean should cease to purse changes in Pyongyang with economic assistance and should not expect the regime to implode from internal revolts or uprisings.

    The engagment and prssure policy should becomeore sophisticated amd responsive.

  • chucky3176

    Disappointed that South Korea didn’t extract more concessions out of North Korea, like the family reunion. The North Koreans were desperate to reopen this cash cow, since South Korea cut them off completely. However, big credit goes to President Park for standing firm and cowing the North Koreans into submission. It must be humiliating for the North to crawl back to South Korea after they blew off with big threatening words. I’m sure they learned a valuable lesson not to play games with this administration. As far as the plant in concerned, I hate the thought of any economic benefits going to the North Korean regime, but think of it this way. If the North Koreans have some things to covet and they have fear of losing some things they covet, they will behave in a way not to threaten the existence of their assets by misbehaving. Throw them this bone, then wait and see for now.

    • Brett

      I was thinking pretty much the same things, chucky.

      Park handled the situation perfectly. Though, I was hoping she would have pushed for more back from N. Korea.

      At least, now NK knows how much it hurts to cut off both political and economic relations with the South.

    • commander

      North Korea has thought that a country that guarantee its regime security is the United States.

      In its view, the economic benefits from joint projects with South Korea, including the Gaeseong industrial park and the Mt.Geumgang touring program, is helpful for the cash-strapped regime, but those profits would not great leverage enough to change its external policy.

      This means the North could make armed provocations again though such brinkmanship tactics could risk the permament suspension of inter Korean joint enterprises.

      The inter-Korean accord to restart the stalled complex’s operations needs to be seen in a broader text of the North’s escaping isolation it faces following its last December missile launch and Feburary third nuclear test.

      I mean the two sides have different thoughts. The North sees the agreement as a vehicle to rebuild trust with China, who gave Pyongyang the cold shoulder for the nucear test against Beijing’s advice, and as a source to make some money from the South.

      For South Korea, the agreement means an auspicious start for President Park’s signature North Korea policy Trustpolitik, and a departure from the severance of inter Korean contacts during its preceding administration whose get tough policy was blamed for the failure to tame the waywar country’s adventurism, including the shelling of a South Korean island near the sea border and the torpedoing of a South Korean naval ship.

      Two different conception of the agreement might herald that the upbeat mood from agreement may be short-lived.

  • takasar1

    commenter number one obviously doesnt get the situation. this story also reminds me why politics is a fool’s gold. if all goes well (even though it is a result of the foreign policy makers and backroom staff/advisers) the president/PM gets the credit and if problems arise, the figurehead is blamed, even if the problems were orchestrated by others.

    good move overall, in the long-run, most likely after the chinese have stripped north korea of vital natural resources, the two countries (possibly forcefully) will have to reconcile, especially since south korea is reaching a plateau in a neighborhood where it needs/wants to be as strong as possible.

  • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

    1)North Korea, needing money and aid, try to make amends with South Korea
    2)With aid money, the Kim family redirects a majority of that money to alcohol and whores
    3)Kim, in a fit of drunken rage, threatens everyone that looks at him funny, and cuts diplomatic ties.
    4)Sobering up, and realizing the drug money’s gone, North Korea starts writing its umpteenth apology letter.

    The process begins again and again and again…

  • I wonder, does the agreement mention any sanctions or other repercussions for failure to comply? Not to wish for the worst, but it’s not as if North Korea failing to uphold a treaty or international agreement would be anything new.

  • Yu Bum Suk

    Why, oh why, oh why does this project continue? Yes, let’s give the Norks money and potential hostages. Sometimes I think SK should just negotiate with China to let them annex NK.

    • chucky3176

      It’s not a good ideal to cut them off completely. This is all they’re getting, and it’s not a bad ideal to give them some incentive to behave, otherwise if they have nothing to lose, they can become more belligerent. At least this way, if they start the threats again, they know they’ll put at risk something they worked hard to restart. Right now North Korea is so desperate for cash, this is very important for them. Plus, the opening of this complex has actually helped South Korea in ways of reaching the North Korean people. Even North Korea has a hard time filtering out all the information about South Korea, however hard they have tried.

      • commander

        Money from the joint complex is handsome but is not enormous enough to make them give up any provocations if the North want to tactically take a provocative move.

        The majority of Pyongyang’s GDP comes from economic trade with China, and its overseas sales of arms, drugs and the circulation of counterfeit dollars abroad.

        Thus, your case for economic leverage based on lost profits from inter Korean cooperative projects may be as relevant as the generated money for the North takes up its GDP, which I think is small.

        • chucky3176

          The money is very small to us, but to Pyongyang, it’s very big. At least it’s big enough that they would swallow their extreme pride and come back to South Korea with hats in their hands, saying we’re sorry can you please come back? That tells me right there, that this is not a small money that they are willing to lose.

          • commander

            We differ on interpretation of the agreement reached by two Koreas.

            The agreement state two Koreas ensure personnel safety and and uninterrupted operation of factories at Gaeseong under any political circumstances, showing that South Korea’s repeated calls for the North to offer a guarantee of no unilateral closure in the future are not accepted.

            In addition, two Koreas agreed to form an ad hoc committe to discuss compensation for damage from four month suspended operation at the complex, effectively putting the thorny issue to the back burner.

            Last but not least, South Korea failed to have Pyongyang make an official apology for unilateral shutdown of the vestige of inter Korean rapprochement.

            Supports could the South’s insistence upon tue belligerent regime’s apology could derail negotiations to resume the halted complex.

            But such a claim itself reveals that evaluating the agreement as a success is far fetched.

            In conclusion, North Korea, though it is the main culprit of the complex closure, has made few concessions in the agreement, while get a chance to make a hansome profit from a soon-to-resume industrial park.

            This means that for Seoul, the agreement is at best halt success, not a knockout victory.

  • dk2020
  • vonskippy

    South Korea – such suckers. They should have made the North beg, drawn out the begging for several months, then laughed in their face and said no. Instead the bullies end up getting their way with little to no penalty for being dicks in the first place. Way to negotiate South, you suck at politics.

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