Published : 2013-10-18 20:38
Updated : 2013-10-18 20:38
South Korea has decided to indefinitely postpone an event, scheduled for Oct. 31, to attract foreign investors to the industrial complex in Gaeseong across the Demilitarized Zone. The delay results from the lack of progress in the talks with North Korea on cross-border passage, communication and customs clearance.
In deciding in August to reopen the industrial complex, whose operations had been suspended in April, Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to facilitate the border passage of personnel by controlling it with the use of radio frequency identification technology. They agreed on cell phone use and Internet connectivity in the industrial complex as well as a simplified clearance procedure. But no progress was made in the subsequent talks.
Now Seoul has no other option than to shelve its plan to invite potential foreign companies to an investment forum. Who would open factories in the industrial complex if passage, communication and clearance should remain as cumbersome as it is now?
South Korea believes the presence of foreign-owned factories in the industrial complex is critical in ensuring that its own factories there will operate without the kind of arbitrary interruption that was witnessed in April. North Korea shut the industrial complex down, citing the launch of a South Korean-U.S. military exercise.
But it did not take long before the cash-strapped Pyongyang called on Seoul to permit South Korean companies to resume operations in the complex. South Korea demurred, demanding a guarantee that the industrial complex would not be shut down for political reasons again.
Permission to foreign companies to open factories in the industrial complex was among the preconditions set by the South for its compliance with the North Korean request. If North Korea ever wished to advance its economy with the help of foreign capital, as the South Korean theory went, it would find it much more difficult to suspend operations in the industrial complex at the expense of foreign as well as South Korean factories.
A month has elapsed since the industrial complex resumed operations. But the deceitful North is refusing to make good on its promise to improve cross-border passage, communication and customs clearance. Instead, it has resumed a propaganda war against South Korea, hurling diatribes against President Park Geun-hye, who had called on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program for peace on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea, which is proving untrustworthy again, should be reminded that it has nothing much to gain from the standoff in negotiations.