Last call at Kaesong…

The end of sunshine?
According to Yonhap (here and here), Friday, November 28, was the last day of the Kaesong day tours (210 tourists made the trip) and the last day the “train to nowhere” made its inter-Korean trip.

As for the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ)…According to (Bloomberg), on December 1 the DPRK cut the number of “windows” available each day for South Korean vehicles to enter and leave the KIZ from 19 to 6 (though the Donga Ilbo claims just 3), and limited the number of South Koreans allowed in the complex to 880—about 20% of the 4,200 previously permitted to enter the complex.

According to the  Donga Ilbo, Pyongyang delivered notice at 11:55pm Sunday saying those allowed to stay in Kaesong are 27 staff of the management committee; four from the (South) Korea Land Corp.; 40 from Hyundai Asan Corp.; five at restaurants and living quarters; two at shops and hospitals; and 800 from South Korean companies. Border crossings are also limited to 250 staff members and 150 vehicles each time.

Jeopardizing more than Kaesong
As previously discussed (here and here), South Korea and Russia are interested in building oil and natural gas pipelines which would cross the DPRK. If these projects went through, the DPRK government would benefit from construction and “rental” fees—in effect taking a cut of all the energy resources that cross their borders.  North Korea, is now telling the Russians that the project is not too palatable at the moment.

Still more red than green it seems.

What now?
So while the DPRK chases away investment from the South, they solicit more from Kuwait and Singapore (where Chris Hill is due to stop by):

North Korean Foreign Trade Minister Ri Ryong Nam, now in Singapore, has urged Singapore companies to invest in the isolated country, the Singapore government said Monday.

The North Korean minister “briefed…on economic developments in North Korea and possible investment opportunities for Singapore companies,” in a meeting with Singapore’s former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, now a senior minister in the Cabinet, a government statement said.

Goh said, “Singapore would be glad to explore ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation, including in the areas of trade and investment, once international concerns were assuaged and the environment improved.”

Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo made a trip to North Korea in May, accompanied by a business delegation, in what was the first official visit to North Korea by a Singapore Cabinet minister.

On that trip, Yeo met North Korea’s No. 2 political leader Kim Yong Nam and Ri.

Yeo said at the end of his visit North Korea might be keen to learn from some aspects of the Singapore development model and that Singapore is ready to offer help and ideas. (Kyodo-Japan Economic Newswire)

Chewing gum manufacturers beware!


5 Responses to “Last call at Kaesong…”

  1. Baltimoron says:

    I doubt this is anything more than moving the goalposts for the next round of negotiations. And, given Russia’s apparent interest, it might even shake up the Six-Party Talks even more.

  2. NKeconWatch says:

    We will see. I have read reports that claim these moves are for foreign policy purposes—and I have also read reports that these moves are for internal reasons.


  3. Baltimoron says:

    After all this uncertainty, the other players in the region will prefer another strongman, like the Great or the Dear.