NORTH KOREA THIS WEEK NO. 470 (October 18, 2007) |
*** INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS
Koreas complete first-stage development of Kaesong complex
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- More than 400 government and business officials from South and North Korea gathered on Oct. 16 at the Kaesong industrial complex in the North to celebrate the completion of the first phase of development of the landmark reconciliation zone, organizers said.
The industrial park in Kaesong, a border town 60 kilometers northeast of Seoul, has been hailed as a major outcome of the historic 2000 inter-Korean summit, and is being built in three stages with completion scheduled for 2012. Over 13,000 North Korean workers now employed in Kaesong earn some US$60.4 each a month working for South Korean firms producing garments, watches, utensils and other labor-intensive goods.
"The Kaesong complex is an achievement that shows that our people can do anything when they pull together," Kim Jae-hyun, head of the Korea Land Corp. (KLC), said in a congratulatory speech during a ceremony held at the complex, according to the company.
KLC, South Korea's state-run real estate company, is responsible for selecting the companies that operate there.
Other dignitaries from Seoul included Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung and Hyun Jeong-eun, chairwoman of the Hyundai Group, which is involved in various projects in the North. Some 100 North Koreans, none of whom were identified, were present at the ceremony, according to the KLC.
"The significance of the industrial park was highlighted once more during the recent inter-Korean summit, paving the way to further expand development (of the zone)," Lee said in his speech.
The first-phase construction of the park, which began in June 2003, covers 3.3 million square meters. As of April, some 220 companies have signed up to move into the complex. Currently, 57 firms operate in the zone.
Approximately 8.26 million square meters of land have been allotted for the second stage of development. Construction of the second stage is expected to begin early next year. The new section is expected to be used for material-oriented and technology industries, such as synthetic fibers and electronics parts, according to the KLC.
In the second inter-Korean summit held early this month, South and North Korea agreed to develop Haeju into a special economic zone, similar to the Kaesong complex. Haeju is a militarily sensitive town for North Korea roughly 75 kilometers west of Kaesong,
South, North Korean news agencies seek cooperation in first-ever meeting
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea's news agencies met for the first time in Pyongyang on Oct. 12 to discuss ways to boost cross-border cooperation amid warming inter-Korean relations after the second-ever inter-Korean summit in early October.
Kim Ki-seo, president of Yonhap News Agency, proposed exchanging correspondents in his talks with his counterpart of the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim Ki-ryong. No South Korean journalist is currently dispatched in the North.
"With the progress in exchanges and cooperation in various ways between the South and the North, we, the media, also need active exchanges," the Yonhap president said in a meeting at People's Palace of Culture.
The KCNA president, however, expressed reservations about Yonhap's proposal, saying, "We are seriously studying and discussing Yonhap News Agency's proposal."
The North Korean media gave news coverage of Yonhap delegation's visit to Pyongyang and meeting with Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly on Oct. 12.
On Oct. 13, the North's Korean Central Television Station released news coverage of Kim Yong-nam's meeting and talks with the Yonhap delegation and Kyodo News of Japan, led by its president, Satoshi Ishikawa, at the Mansudae Assembly Hall on Oct. 12.
On hand were Hong Son Ok, vice-chairperson of the Korean Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, Kim Chang-gwang, deputy director general of the KCNA, Pak Kyong-chol, vice-chairman of the National Reconciliation Council, and other officials concerned, the TV station reported.
The Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the Workers' Party, also reported Kim Yong-nam's meeting with Yonhap president Kim, while the Korean Central Broadcasting Station introduced their meeting its morning news program.
The Yonhap delegation was making a week-long visit to Pyongyang to co-host an exhibition of photographs of murals of Korea's ancient Koguryo kingdom with Japan's Kyodo News Service. The delegations met with the North's second-ranking leader, Kim Yong-nam, later in the day.
Yonhap and Kyodo hold joint photo exhibition of ancient murals in North Korea
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- An exhibition of 121 photos of artifacts of Korea's ancient kingdom of Koguryo opened in North Korea on Oct. 11, with South Korea's Yonhap News Agency and Japan's Kyodo News co-hosting.
The opening of the exhibit marks the first time the South Korean news agency has hosted an event in North Korea. The exhibition opened just a week after the leaders of South and North Korea held their second summit in seven years.
"The murals of the Koguryo kingdom are an element that links the people of South and North Korea," Yonhap President Kim Ki-seo said in an earlier Yonhap dispatch from Pyongyang.
North Korea sees the legacy of Korea's ancient kingdom of Koguryo as a means of improving inter-Korean relations and promoting an eventual unification of the two Koreas, a senior North Korean official said on Oct. 11.
The horse-riding warriors of Koguryo (37 B.C.- 668 A.D.) controlled the northern part of the Korean Peninsula and northeastern China for more than 700 years, until they were defeated by joint attacks from the southern Korean kingdom of Silla and China's Tang Dynasty.
A total of 107 Koguryo tombs with paintings on the walls and ceilings depicting daily life and mythical beliefs have been discovered, with 76 in and around the North Korean capital of Pyongyang and the rest around the border between North Korea and China.
As much of the kingdom was located in what is now northeastern China, Chinese scholars have recently begun claiming that the Koguryo kingdom is part of Chinese history. Last year, Yonhap and Kyodo co-hosted an exhibition in Seoul of photos that Kyodo took at Koguryo tombs in North Korea.
Hong Son-ok, a North Korean official in charge of external cooperation in cultural cooperation, said, "I'm passionate about opening this exhibition, as I am confident that it will further boost our people's struggle to achieve a unified powerhouse nation and promote the improvement of (North) Korea and Japan relations based on a drastic clearance of their past."
Hong's statement referred to North Korea's chilly relations with Japan, which colonized the Korean Peninsula for about 35 years until 1945. Hong also said in the statement to Yonhap News Agency at the exhibition's opening ceremony in Pyongyang that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il "paid special care and courtesy" to the exhibition.
About 100 Pyongyang citizens attended the opening ceremony with most of the women guests wearing Korea's colorful traditional costume, hanbok.
"The Koguryo mural exhibition opened at the Korean Central History Museum in Pyongyang with the president of Yonhap and Kyodo and North Korean officials concerned attending," the (North) Korean Central News Agency said.
The North's official broadcaster, Korean Central Television, broadcast a detailed introduction of the exhibition, and reported that a South Korean delegation led by the Yonhap president met with the country's titular head of state, Kim Yong-nam.
At the opening ceremony, Yonhap President Kim cited the popularity in South Korea of television dramas and literature featuring the ancient kingdom, which he referred to as a spiritual root shared by the two Koreas. Kyodo's president, Satoshi Ishikawa, was also on hand at the opening ceremony.
"The exhibition was held amid renewed enthusiasm for the unity of all the Korean people, following the North and South Korea summit," reported the Choson Sinbo, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper published in Japan.
The Choson Sinbo said, "It is helping to bring about the reconciliation and unity of the Korean people as well as deepening mutual understanding and friendship with Japan." Quoting participants at an opening ceremony for the exhibition, the paper noted that the event reflects the spirit of the recent agreement made by the leaders of the two Koreas.
The exhibition runs until November 10.