South Korea’s point man on North Korea said Wednesday that Seoul will make gradual preparations to break ground for a peace park inside the heavily fortified border with North Korea.
Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said the proposed peace park will lay the basis for peace and cooperation on the divided Korean Peninsula, though he acknowledged challenges.
He did not elaborate on a specific time frame for the project as he made the comments in an international forum on the peace park.
His comments came amid no signs of progress in getting the project off the ground due mainly to tensions between the rival Koreas.
Also Wednesday, the North’s main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, reported that North Korea did not expect its relations with South Korea to improve so long as President Park Geun-hye remains in office in Seoul.
Last year, Park proposed that the two Koreas build an international park inside the 4-kilometer-wide Demilitarized Zone separating the two countries as part of efforts to improve their relations.
In January, the National Assembly earmarked 30.2 billion won ($29.5 million) for Park’s pet project, 10 billion won less than requested by the ministry in charge of inter-Korean affairs. The parliament cited a lack of feasibility as the reason for the reduction.
The project requires cooperation not only from North Korea, but the U.S.-led United Nations Command as well.
The two Koreas technically remain in a state of war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. (Yonhap)