[Seoul 10th Reuters]–Park Young-man’s desire to reopen the clothing factory in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, an economic cooperation project between South Korea and North Korea, is the largest conservative opposition party “People Power Party” in the South Korean presidential election. It seems that Yoon Seok-yeol’s victory has made him a “dream again”.
In the Kaesong Industrial Complex, about 124 Korean companies once set up factories and employed about 55,000 North Korean employees. However, the complex was closed in early 2016 following a rocket launch and a nuclear test by North Korea.
Given the frequent hostilities of North Korea and Mr. Yoon’s hard-line stance toward North Korea, many efforts for North-South dialogue are expected to be shelved for the time being. The reopening of the Kaesong Industrial Complex is one of them.
“I would like to expect a miracle, but the North-South relations may continue to deteriorate under the Yin administration. There is even a risk of provocative acts and exchanges,” Park said. The production of his own clothing company is said to have dropped to one-sixth of what it was at the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
President Moon Jae-in has set out a reconciliation line with North Korea, but no progress has been made during his term. Yoon’s victory could put an end to this line.
Mr. Yoon has promised a strong military strategy, saying that if North Korea’s hypersonic missile launch is imminent, the only way to counter it may be a preemptive strike.
Mr. Yoon’s team is seeking to resume negotiations with North Korea, but has raised the condition that North Korea will take concrete actions to denuclearize. It also calls for improving military deterrence, including strengthening relations with the United States.
In his first speech after winning the presidential election on the 10th, Mr. Yoon said, “We will take decisive action in accordance with the basic principles against the illegal and unjust acts of North Korea, but the door to the North-South dialogue will always be open. I’ll leave it. “
According to analysts and Yoon’s campaign team, North Korea was poised to intensify the conflict, at least in the short term, no matter who was elected president.
North Korea launched a record number of missiles in January, suggesting that it will resume testing nuclear bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). It seems that they are also preparing to launch a reconnaissance satellite.
Christopher Green, a Korean Peninsula expert at Leiden University (Netherlands), said, “We expect North Korea to become more nervous soon. It will be so tense that Yoon can’t even do lip service over the North-South dialogue.” rice field.
The United States has shown a positive attitude towards unconditional dialogue with North Korea. However, the North Korean side dismisses that it is dishonest for the US and South Korea to make such an offer while continuing “hostile policies” such as military exercises, armament buildup, and sanctions.
Professor Park Won-gon, who is involved in North Korean research at Ewha Womans University (Seoul), points out that North Korea is pushing forward to achieve its desire to be recognized as a nuclear power. She said, “For now, North Korea does not want a nuclear deal.”
Immediately after taking office, President Moon faced the worst tension since the Korean War. After that, North Korea’s General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Kim Jong-un, suddenly declared that the nuclear force was “completed” and launched a diplomatic offensive, leading to the first-ever US-North Korea summit meeting.
However, when the second meeting between Mr. Kim and former U.S. President Trump in Hanoi ended in a farewell, President Moon’s expectations for maintaining North-South reconciliation collapsed, and many people’s dreams for North-South cooperation. Was turned down.
North Korea will gradually raise dissatisfaction with Mr. Moon, who cannot persuade the United States to ease economic sanctions.
“We’re starting over. We have to close the opening chapter in the history book.” Park talks in an empty office with a photo of his factory in the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
South Korea is now faced with domestic affairs such as soaring housing prices, widening disparities, and the difficulty of finding employment for highly educated young people. Dialogue with North Korea does not seem to be a high priority in Mr. Yoon’s policy agenda.
Sue Kim of RAND Corporation, a US think tank, said, “We should ask the Korean people if they support the North-South economic project. The project is likely to put a greater financial burden on South Korea than North Korea.”
(Reporter by Ju-min Park)
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