South Korea is a sovereign state in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighboured by China to the west, Japan to the east, and North Korea to the north. With an estimated population of 50 million, it covers a total area 98,480 square kilometres which includes partially forested mountain ranges separated by deep, narrow valleys. Its main exports are wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles and computers. Korea was one nation under the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties until the end of the Korean Empire in 1910, when Japan began a 35-year period of colonial rule. Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers in 1945 and three years later the country split in two, beginning decades of conflict between North and South. The current president of The Republic of Korea (South Korea) is Park Geun-hye. She is the first woman to be elected as President in South Korea.
South Korea leader wants talks with North on industrial park
Agence France-Presse in Seoul
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye said Tuesday she wants talks with North Korea on removing raw materials and finished products from a joint industrial complex closed by military tensions.
In a cabinet meeting, Park instructed the Unification Ministry to offer Pyongyang discussions on the Kaesong complex, which lies 10 kilometres (six miles) inside the North Korean side of the joint border.
Established in 2004 as a rare symbol of inter-Korean cooperation, Kaesong was the most high-profile casualty of two months of elevated tensions that followed the North’s nuclear test in February.
Pyongyang barred South Korean access to the zone and pulled out all its 53,000 workers early last month. Seoul withdrew the last of its nationals 10 days ago.
The South Korean government has already agreed to provide US$270 million in emergency compensation to investors from the 120 South Korean firms in Kaesong who were forced to shut down operations.
Estimates of their total losses range from 1.0 trillion to 3.0 trillion won.
When they pulled out, company officials loaded down cars with packages of products, but were still forced to leave large stocks of goods behind.
“I want the Unification Ministry to propose talks with North Korea so that the firms can reduce losses by taking out finished products and raw materials, left behind at Kaesong, at an early date,” Park told the cabinet meeting, according to a pool report.
The last group of South Koreans left the zone on May 3 after the South sent $13 million in cash to cover unpaid wages and taxes.
Neither side has officially declared a permanent shutdown of Kaesong, with the South continuing to supply a minimum amount of electricity to the empty complex.
Pyongyang has said re-starting the complex would require Seoul to cease all “hostile acts and military provocations” including joint South Korea-US military drills.