North Korea-South Korea: On 16 October the South Korean Minister of Unification told a committee of the National Assembly, "The North has notified us that 'Under the current circumstances, it would be inappropriate to host the investment expo.'" The North Korean notification, in effect canceled the event designed to help "internationalize" the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
The joint event had initially been agreed upon by the two Koreas at a meeting of the "North-South Joint Committee" on September 10th. It was supposed to be one element in the "developmental normalization" of the Kaesong Complex. Other key elements are the so-called "Three Tongs": passage, communications, and customs.
As a direct consequence, the South Korean government has postponed a joint investment briefing that had been scheduled for 31 October for the purpose of attracting foreign investment to the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), thus "internationalizing" it.
A government official explained on the 14th, "Considering issues such as delayed agreement on passage, communications, and customs at Kaesong, and foreign businesses' responses to this delay, we concluded that it would be difficult at this time to revive the original intention of the briefing session, which was originally agreed upon between North and South
Comment: The North is slowly extending the deterioration in the political atmosphere to Kaesong, which it agreed to keep open under all circumstances. It also agreed to internationalize Kaesong in cooperation with South Korea, but is now reneging on that agreement, just as it reneged on the agreement to permit reunions of separated family members last month.
The reason ostensibly is the hostile attitude of the South which the North has found offensive. South Korean experts suggest that the that North Korea primarily is concerned with tourism to Mount Kumgang on the southeast coast, which South Korea is not yet ready to finance and resume.
Kim Jung Un appears to have staked his personal prestige on creating playgrounds, tourist attractions and sporting venues as sources of earning hard currency quickly. This appears to be rooted in a poor understanding of the economy of Switzerland, where he attended school. He is much less interested in complex business processes and international trade that might require South Korean cooperation.
In short, the situation continues to trend towards increased stress in the political atmosphere. That will be followed by another round of instability in security conditions, probably by December when winter military training season startsin North Korea.
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