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Cheong Wa Dae dismisses possible reopening of Kaesong complex in N. Korea

South Korea is not considering reopening the joint industrial park in North Korea's Kaesong, at least for now, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday, dismissing news reports that suggested the possibility.

"We want to clarify the issue because it may send a wrong message not only to our people but also those in other countries," a Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters.

The reports followed a Monday meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and a group of US lawmakers, including Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) speaks to a group of visiting US lawmakers in a meeting held at his presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Aug. 21, 2017. (Yonhap)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) speaks to a group of visiting US lawmakers in a meeting held at his presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Aug. 21, 2017. (Yonhap)

"In the meeting, President Moon had simply pointed out that introducing the North Korean people to market economy and changing the way they think was a very effective way to change the way North Korea behaves and that the Kaesong complex did contribute to such efforts," the official said, while speaking on condition of anonymity.

The joint industrial complex, located just north of the inter-Korean border, was once celebrated as a symbol of reconciliation between the two Koreas that has remained technically at war since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

At its peak, 124 South Korean firms employed more than 56,000 North Korean workers there. It was shut down in February 2016 by Seoul's former conservative Park Geun-hye administration that sought to punish the communist state for its fourth nuclear test in the month before.

During his presidential campaign, Moon advocated reconciliation with the North, including the resumption of joint projects under the right conditions.

He, however, is currently focusing on what he calls "maximum pressure and sanctions" on North Korea following its continued provocations. North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test in September 2016 and 12 missile tests this year, including seven since Moon's May 10 inauguration.

Still, the new South Korean president stresses the need to resume dialogue with the reclusive North, saying the final and sole objective of additional pressure and sanctions must be the peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue. (Yonhap)
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