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North and South Korea make up over the Kaesong industrial zone

Pyongyang said today that it would reopen an economic zone operated by North and South Korea, one of the few points of cooperation between the rival Koreas whose closure since April has meant the loss of millions of dollars for both sides.

Interestingly, North Korea’s announcement to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) came about an hour and a half after Seoul seemed to finally give up on cajoling North Korea into reopening the zone. South Korean authorities said today that they would begin compensating the South Korean companies that had operated factories in Kaesong, a sign observers interpreted as South Korea moving on—or at least wanting to give such an impression. Previous proposals to Pyongyang to reopen the zone had gone unanswered, prompting officials in Seoul to say “we cannot wait forever” in late July.

The two counties are still technically at war since an armistice was struck after the 1950-53 war and relations reached a low point earlier this year when Pyongyang conducted a third nuclear test and threatened again to turn South Korea “into a sea of fire” in a nuclear strike.

The zone is a rare thawing point in relations between one of the world’s wealthiest countries and one of the poorest, most reclusive states. Kaesong generates an estimated $90 million a year in wages paid to North Korea and is a critical source of foreign currency. South Korea has said that its companies had lost 1.05 trillion won ($910 million) since the Kaesong industrial park was closed in April. Talks about when to reopen the zone will be held on Aug 14.

Here are some recent photos of Kaesong:

South Korean workers and employers from Kaesong call for its reopening. Reuters/Kim Hong Ji
North Koreans in Kaesong cleaning a street after a storm. AP Photo/David Guttenfelder
Demonstrators outside of Kaesong call for inter-Korean dialogue. Reuters/Kim Hong Ji
A guard patrols a road connecting KIC with South Korea. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji
A checkpoint on the Grand Unification Bridge that leads into the Kaesong Industrial Complex. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji
South Korean soldiers guard the bridge leading into KIC. Reuters/Lee Jae Won
Some of the made-in-KIC wares available for purchase at Kaesong. Reuters/Kim Hong Ji
A South Korean worker with products made in the KIC. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

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