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:

Protesters comprising of South Korean employers and employees working at factories in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) inside North Korea chant slogans during a rally at the Imjingak pavilion near the demilitarized zone which separates the two Koreas, in Paju, north of Seoul August 7, 2013. Hundreds of protesters on Wednesday held a rally at Imjingak pavilion to demand the normalisation of the KIC. South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said last week the South is proposing a final round of talks with North Korea to reopen the joint-industrial zone and approve humanitarian aid from private organisations to the North. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT BUSINESS) - RTX12CF9
South Korean workers and employers from Kaesong call for its reopening. (Reuters/Kim Hong Ji)
North Koreans clean a street after a heavy rainfall in Kaesong, North Korea on Monday, July 22, 2013. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
North Koreans in Kaesong cleaning a street after a storm. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
Members of the Korea Freedom Federation attend a rally urging North Korea to re-start operations at the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), at a railway station in Seoul April 11, 2013. South Korea and the United States remained on high alert for any North Korean missile launch on Thursday as the hermit kingdom turned its attention to celebrating its ruling Kim dynasty and appeared to dial down rhetoric of impending war. The signs read, "Call to re-start operations at KIC" (blue), "Fears of war, secure people's safety" (green) and "Stop threatening us immediately." (purple)   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTXYH5C
Demonstrators outside of Kaesong call for inter-Korean dialogue. (Reuters/Kim Hong Ji)
A South Korean police officer stands guard on an empty road connecting the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) inside the North Korean border with the South's CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine), just south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, north of Seoul May 3, 2013. South Korea's seven remaining employees who work at an inter-Korean complex inside North Korea returned home on Friday, according to local media. South Korea has offered 300 billion won ($273.9 million) in special loans to companies affected by Pyongyang's decision last month to close a jointly run industrial zone in North Korea, a government official said on Thursday.   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY) - RTXZ8Q2
A guard patrols a road connecting KIC with South Korea. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
A South Korean soldier checks the media's vehicles at a checkpoint on the Grand Unification Bridge which leads to the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea, just south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, north of Seoul July 10, 2013. North and South Korea agreed early on Sunday to take steps to reopen a jointly run industrial park, including facilities inspections, after the two rivals staged a marathon meeting lasting more than 16 hours to arrange details. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: MEDIA BUSINESS MILITARY POLITICS TRANSPORT) - RTX11I5J
A checkpoint on the Grand Unification Bridge that leads into the Kaesong Industrial Complex. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
South Korean soldiers patrol on the Grand Unification Bridge leading to the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea, south of the demilitarized zone separating the North from South Korea in Paju, north of Seoul April 29, 2013. Last Friday, Pyongyang rejected a call for formal talks to end a standoff that forced operations at the joint industrial complex to be halted. South Korea in turn said it would pull out all its remaining workers from Kaesong. Of the 175 remaining South Korean workers, 126 workers left the factory zone last Saturday. The rest are scheduled to return late Monday.  REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS BUSINESS) - RTXZ369
South Korean soldiers guard the bridge leading into KIC. (Reuters/Lee Jae Won)
A woman walks past products made at the Kaesong Industrial Complex at the North Korean border, at its showroom at the Unification observation platform near the demilitarized zone which separates the two Koreas in Paju, north of Seoul June 12, 2013. Planned high-level talks between South and North Korea after a six-year hiatus and threats of war were scrapped on Tuesday, South Korean government officials said, over a seemingly minor disagreement over the diplomatic ranks of chief delegates.   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: POLITICS) - RTX10KT8
Some of the made-in-KIC wares available for purchase at Kaesong. (Reuters/Kim Hong Ji)
Reporters try to interview a South Korean employee (C) as he returns from KIC (Kaesong industrial complex) with products made in KIC, at the South's CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine), just south of the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, north of Seoul April 11, 2013. South Korea said on Wednesday there was a "very high" probability that North Korea, after weeks of threats of war, would test-launch a medium-range missile at any time as a show of strength.   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY MEDIA) - RTXYH0Y
A South Korean worker with products made in the KIC. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

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