North Korea has apparently blinked. The DPRK has agreed to reopen the Kaesong industrial plant, run jointly by both countries, just minutes after the South signaled its willingness to let the facility remain closed for good. South Korea also promised to pay out $250 million to companies that have suffered because of the closure.
Reuters has the details:
The North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, which handles Pyongyang’s ties with Seoul, proposed talks aimed at normalising the project and said the safety of South Koreans visiting the factory park would be guaranteed.
The committee was “prompted by its desire to bring about a new phase of reconciliation, cooperation, peace, reunification and prosperity by normalizing operation in the Kaesong zone”, it said in unusually conciliatory remarks.
The North’s decision seems to reflect a deference to Chinese pressure to make nice with the South and cool tensions in East Asia. This is the kind of “nice” that China likes: it sweetens Beijing’s relationship with South Korea without doing anything for Japan. China would love to build warmer ties to Seoul, drawing the South away from the US and eventually, perhaps, facilitating the reunification of the Korean peninsula.