|Delegates from South and North Korea discuss stalled Gaeseong industrial complex at Gaeseong, North Korea on Tuesday. Koreas on Wednesday agreed to resume the operation of the complex next week. (Yonhap News)|
South and North Korea agreed Wednesday to resume the operation of a joint industrial complex in the communist country next week after a five-month hiatus, Seoul's unification ministry said.
The deal, which came after overnight negotiations between the two sides, will revive the last-remaining major inter-Korean venture that has been shuttered since early April amid heightened tension on the peninsula.
South Korean firms will be allowed to restart operations at the site just north of the inter-Korean border after a trial run on Monday, said the ministry which handles inter-Korean affairs.
The agreement ends the standoff surrounding the Kaesong complex that began with the unilateral pullout of North Korean workers from the factory zone on April 9. Pyongyang had pulled its roughly 53,000 workers citing political and military provocations from South Korea.
Under the deal, South Korean firms will be exempt from paying taxes for the rest of 2013 and allow a waiver payment for taxes that went unpaid in 2012 until the end of the year.
The two sides also adopted an agreement calling for the creation of a dispute arbitration panel and concurred on easing access to the complex by introducing radio-frequency identification devices within the year.
They made an affiliated agreement that calls for adherence to rules governing the rights and safety of South Koreans traveling to and staying at the industrial park.
The agreement also calls for holding an international investor relations session to highlight the merits of the Kaesong complex to potential foreign companies in October, and the establishment of a permanent secretariat by the end of the month.
Seoul and Pyongyang said they will continue discussions on allowing South Korean businessmen to use mobile phones and the Internet in the factory park.
The two countries said that another round of sub-committee sessions will be convened on Friday with the joint committee to meet for its third session on Monday to check development and set a timetable for pushing forward agreements reached.
"In areas where full agreement was not reached, considerable progress has been made to reduce the gap," a ministry official said. "Remaining outstanding issues are to be resolved at the sub-committee meetings scheduled for the end of the week."
The official, who declined to be identified, said that Seoul hopes the latest headway can lead to the progressive development of the complex. (Yonhap News)