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Asian editorial excerpts.

TOKYO, Oct. 16 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the Asia-Pacific press:


South Korea faces hurdles before it can activate an ambitious plan under which the Gaeseong Industrial Complex would operate stably, following a tense inter-Korean conflict over the closure of the factory zone earlier this year.

Seoul's Unification Ministry said on Monday that it has notified North Korea of its decision to postpone a planned investment seminar aimed at attracting foreign investors to the jointly run complex. The seminar had been scheduled for Oct. 31 at the factory park.

South Korea reportedly postponed the seminar because of a deadlock in negotiations with North Korea to improve three major problems in the complex -- facilitating entry procedures, rectifying communications infrastructure and streamlining customs rules. The delay appears inevitable, given that the North called off working-level talks to discuss the problems last month unilaterally and has shown no interest in Seoul's call for talks...

It's quite disheartening that the two Koreas have failed to narrow their differences on how to ensure the "developmental normalization" of the factory park at a time when inter-Korean relations have gone sour, especially after North Korea broke its promise to hold a reunion event for separated families late last month. But the reclusive regime in Pyongyang must know that the industrial park won't become an attractive investment destination for foreign investors without the settlement of the three major issues.

Inter-Korean relations will remain sour for a considerable while, given that North Korea has been ramping up its criticism of South Korea and President Park Geun Hye, most probably because of Seoul's careful approach toward resuming South Koreans' tours to Mt. Geumgang in the North. True, there has been no progress in advancing operations at the complex since the two Koreas agreed to reopen it in August, except for the creation of a joint committee secretariat for the industrial park. In the South, criticism is also mounting that North Korea has reaped fruits from the reactivation of the complex while failing to deliver on its promises.

It's unclear yet why North Korea has opted to adjust the pace of its appeasement engagement toward the South, but its insincerity shown toward Seoul's eagerness to improve inter-Korean relations is certain to hurt their efforts at building trust. In this case, it will be hard to expect South Korea to be proactive in resuming tours to Mt. Geumgang, let alone improve ties with the United States.

What's clear is that there should be fundamental measures to prevent Pyongyang from shutting down the industrial zone unilaterally merely because of political or military reasons. And there must be effective measures to ensure the presence of foreign companies in the Gaeseong complex. A speedy internationalization of the industrial park would be a win-win strategy for the two Koreas.

(Oct. 16)
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Publication:Asian Political News
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Oct 21, 2013
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