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The Kaesong Delusion

19 Aug

I don’t get the whole Kaesong fixation.

North and South Korea have moved a step closer to reopening a joint industrial complex, raising hopes of improving relations on the peninsula.

Pyongyang and Seoul vowed on Wednesday to “actively” co-operate so that operations could resume, although their statement did not indicate when the Kaesong complex, in the North’s third largest city, might reopen.

The news followed six failed rounds of talks on the issue. Pyongyang said last week that it would reopen the zone – minutes after Seoul indicated it was willing to see the facility closed permanently. Kaesong was the last symbol of inter-Korean engagement until this spring, when tensions soared with the North threatening nuclear strikes against the South and the US after sanctions for its third atomic test in February. It then pulled its 53,000 workers from the site.

Seoul’s chief delegate, Kim Kiwoong, told South Korean media that Wednesday’s joint statement was “not the end but a beginning”.

Unexpectedly, Seoul and Pyongyang said they also sought to attract foreign companies adding that internet and mobile phone connections would be added to the site.

North Korea has sought foreign investors for other economic zones, but companies are likely to be even warier of Kaesong after the four-month shutdown. One of Seoul’s key demands has been a reassurance that Pyongyang will not pull out its workers again.

But has ever a negotiation been conducted in such bad faith by both sides. Seoul looks especially hypocritical – and that’s quite a feat considering Pyongyang’s tactics.

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There Can Be Only One

19 Aug

Those naughty Europeans!

During the negotiations, EADS, the manufacturer of the Eurofighter, had agreed to several requests made by DAPA. DAPA had asked that 15 of the 60 total jets be two-seaters and that R&D work be done for weapons system integration so that the South Korean air force could use the fighter weapons it already has.

But the DAPA later discovered that EADS had subsequently made the arbitrary decision to decrease the number of two-seaters from 15 to 6 and had excluded the R&D cost from the final bidding price.

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Shan Lu’s Pyongyang

17 Aug
A Bus Stop in Pyongyang

A Bus Stop in Pyongyang

Mind you, judging North Korea by photographs taken in Pyongyang is like judging America by the standards of Walt Disney‘s imagination, but Chinese photographer Shan Lu catches a glimpse of Pyongyang’s urban life when North Koreans weren’t scurrying away (via Witness to Transformation).

It seems North Koreans are still going with the “vomit every bright color” strategy of marketing, a style rarely seen in South Korea these days, except in the bowels of older public markets.

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