More news on the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea, which, after its forced shut-down in April at the height of Kim Jong-un's aggressive bombast, looked like it was heading for permanent closure. Now it's all change:
North Korea in a fresh volte-face on Wednesday said it wants to restore inter-Korean hotlines and allow South Korean manufacturers to close the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
Around 5 p.m. Wednesday, the North Korean agency in charge of the joint-Korean industrial park sent a message through liaison officials to the South Korean management committee and an association of South Korean manufacturers there.
It pledged to "allow South Korean businessmen to visit the industrial park to work out emergency measures to prevent damage to facilities and materials in the rainy season." It also promised to take "necessary measures for their cross-border travel and communications" and asked to be given a schedule.
Officials from the management committee can also visit, for "any necessary consultations," it added....
Experts are unconvinced that the North is sincere about reopening the industrial park, which comes amid efforts by the North Korean regime to win back lost love from its traditional allies and after an attempt to arrange official cross-border negotiations floundered due to North Korean grandstanding.
A group of high-tech manufacturing enterprises with facilities in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) has demanded to be allowed to transfer manufacturing facilities and equipment to South Korea or third-country locations before it becomes unusable.
An emergency committee comprised of the enterprises issued the demand earlier today, marking the three-month anniversary of productive activity in the KIC ceasing.
Of 123 enterprises operating in the Kaesong zone, 46 are machinery and electronics firms, and, as such, their investments in facilities are comparatively larger than others, and their technical facilities more expensive.
And, of course, it's worth bearing in mind that the North may just be relishing the opportunity of being awkward and making life difficult for the South, and in particular for President Park Geun-hye:
The South Korean government’s official position is to pursue restarting the KIC, but given the low possibility of North Korea accepting Seoul’s preconditions for such a step (no repeat of the current closure, etc.), it seems unlikely that this will take place in the current inter-Korean environment. Of course, accepting the committee’s request would also represent a major step toward complete closure of the KIC, a decision that puts an unwanted burden on the administration of President Park Geun Hye.
From a political perspective, the current state of affairs is also useful to North Korea, which seeks to incite “South-South conflict” inside South Korea, in this case between the South Korea government and enterprises in the KIC, many of which are in growing financial trouble.