South Korean businesspeople allowed to visit North factory park

World | 17 May 2019 5:23 pm

South Korea has decided to allow its businesspeople to visit their factories at an industrial park in North Korea that was shut down by Seoul’s previous conservative government in 2016 following a North Korean nuclear test.

Lee Sang Min, spokesman of Seoul’s Unification Ministry, said today that the government plans to discuss with North Korean officials details for the visits to the facilities at the North Korean border town of Kaesong, where the Koreas also operate a liaison office.

The announcement came amid a slowdown in inter-Korean engagement following the collapse of a high-stakes nuclear summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump in February over mismatched demands in sanctions relief and nuclear disarmament.

Lee said that the ministry decided to allow the visits by 193 businesspeople so that they could examine the manufacturing facilities and other property they left behind in the North. He downplayed speculation that Seoul was trying to build momentum toward reopening the factory park, which provided badly needed cash for the North before its closure in February 2016.

Pyongyang has since demanded Seoul break away from Washington and resume operations at the Kaesong factory park and South Korean tours to the North’s Diamond Mountain resort that are held back by U.S.-led sanctions against the North.-AP

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