The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Norks Blink, Kaesong Factory to Reopen

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.

Published on August 7, 2013 1:40 pm
  • Thirdsyphon

    If there are Chinese leaders who are hoping for a reunification of North and South Korea on the North’s terms, they’re sadly delusional. The reunification of the Korean Peninsula, if it happens, will look much more like the reunification of Germany. That’s just what happens when a vibrant, prosperous, functioning economy and state get blended with a dysfunctional, desperately poor kleptocracy. Once the Northerners (I refuse to call them Norks) get a taste of what life is like under capitalism, and how much they’ve been lied to, they’ll be the bitterest foes that China has ever known. America will be asked to stay and help Korea defend a new DMZ. . this time across the river from China.

  • bigfire

    As the drug lord villain in Tom Hank’s old comedy “Volunteers” can atest, Money is Money https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Moh7DXMk8g . I guess the fact that the new leader will get no money finally hits the bottom line.

  • Anthony

    Decision must be seen through lens of cultural values and regional expectations – China’s fundamental strategy vis-a-vis North Korea has probably changed little.