From THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:
SEOUL—The final group of South Korean workers returned home from a jointly run industrial park inside North Korea, closing the last outpost of inter-Korean economic cooperation a month after Pyongyang began its choke on the complex.
Seven officials crossed into the South on Friday evening after settling a dispute over wages and taxes with the North. Trucks containing $13 million in cash were sent up to the border to complete final payments after their return.
To Seoul, the significance of the Kaesong plant is symbolic rather than economic, as it has represented the thread that has kept the Koreas connected since its opening in 2004, remaining in operation through several downturns in ties, even military confrontations.
For South Korean President Park Geun-hye — who had pledged to try to build trust between Seoul and Pyongyang to demonstrate a difference from the hard-line policies toward the North of the previous government — its closure marks a particular setback.
South Korea says it remains committed to reopening the plant, but the North maintains Seoul is to blame for the suspension and has called the South’s offer of talks a “crafty trick.”
More at the link.
The joint venture was begun when Kim Jong-il was still the unquestioned leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the middle Mr Kim1 certainly no friend of the Republic of Korea or of capitalism. The venture enabled the two Korean nations to have some communication, and brought some real money to the North, employing 53,000 North Korean workers and $90 million in annual wages; for South Korea, the complex was of relatively little economic benefit.
As for President Park and his “pledge to try to build trust between Seoul and Pyongyang to demonstrate a difference from the hard-line policies toward the North of the previous government,” the lesson ought to be obvious: the North Koreans respect those who see them honestly more than they do those who would wear rose-colored glasses. Beyond that, trying to guess the motivations of the youngest Mr Kim individually, or of the North Korean leadership in general, winds up being more speculation than anything else. Trying to encourage them to “behave,” as Westerners would define behaving, rarely works.
- His father, Kim Il-sung, would be the senior, and his son, Kim Jong-un, the youngest. ↩