Former Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun offers insights about North Korean issues
One of Kaesong Industrial Complex creators recently asked the two Koreas to resume the inter-Korean industrial zone, which closed four years ago.
Jeong Se-hyun, who led the Unification Minister during 2002 and 2004 when the construction of the Kaesong park started, made the request during a recent interview with UPI News Korea.
“The Kaesong industrial zone was shut down due to the order of the former Park Geun-hye administration. It has nothing to do with UN sanctions on North Korea,” Jeong said.
“Hence, Seoul can resume it on its own. Mindful of the U.S. stance, however, the incumbent Moon Jae-in administration has been unable to do so,” he added. “Seoul should give priority to reopening the Kaesong zone.”
Jeong joined the unification ministry in 1977 when military dictator Park Chung-hee ruled the country. In 2002, he took charge of the Unification Ministry under two succeeding presidents of Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun.
When he was at the helm of the ministry, the two Koreas formed the Kaesong park located just 6 miles north of the heavily-fortified Demilitarized Zone.
The industrial complex has been recognized as a symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation, but it was temporarily closed in 2016 as the conservative Park Geun-hye administration recalled all staff.
Current President Moon has presented his desire to resume the industrial zone, but he could not do so for some reason.
Jeong, 74, also said that Seoul can suspend military drills with Washington this year in case Pyongyang stops causing troubles.
“The incumbent government has said that this year’s joint military exercises with the U.S. depend on North Korea. That means that we can stop them if the North does not provoke,” he said.
“Late last year, President Moon said in a media interview that the country is negotiating with the U.S. about curtailing joint exercises. Once he said as such, that means that the country is already ready.”
He added that from the perspective of the Trump administration, it would not have financial and mental leeway to care much about military drills with the South at a time when it focuses on Iran.
Asked about the stalemate in the talks between Washington and Pyongyang, Jeong said that the former needs to consider the latter’s requests a little more.
“Washington urges Pyongyang to denuclearize first. But Pyongyang wants Washington to normalized diplomatic relationships while promising not to attack the regime,” he said.
“They are not prerequisites. The North hopes to talk about all the issues at the same time. The U.S. needs to take that into consideration.”
This article is provided by UPI News Korea. _ ED.