Sun shining on the DMZ?

Via Newsweek, an interesting look at the current state of North Korea’s economy and the possibilities for growth should continued progress towards peace be achieved. As the article notes, in the first 10 months of this year trade between the Koreas rose 23 percent to $1.44 billion, and recent agreements may open additional new areas of the North to a broader array of South Korean firms:

“…the summit last month in Pyongyang between southern President Roh Moo Hyun and northern leader Kim Jong Il gave a boost to growing trade between the former blood rivals. The leaders agreed to a series of grand projects: expanded rail links across the demilitarized zone, port facilities in the northern city of Haeju, shipbuilding projects and the opening of direct flights between the South and Mount Paektu, by legend the original source of the Korean people.

…in 2005, the two sides opened the Kaesong Industrial Complex, just north of the DMZ, where small and medium-size southern firms set up factories. The number of participating southern firms has since doubled to 30, now employing 15,000 workers. They will churn out $150 million worth of clothes, watches and light industrial goods this year. Seoul envisions those numbers rising to hundreds of companies employing 500,000 northerners by 2010. The rebuilt port at Haeju will open a new maritime route to the South for its own industrial complex that will be built with the South’s help.

…Opening the DMZ further will be crucial. A key to the summit projects is the rail link across the DMZ, which could open as early as this year, and will reconnect South Korea by rail to the Asian mainland for the first time since the Korean War. Seoul estimates it now takes 35 days to ship a 20-foot cargo container from Busan to Moscow by sea, at a cost of $3,800. By train it would take 10 days and cost $2,800. By linking the trans-Korea, Siberian and China railways, “South Korea can become a logistics hub of East Asia,” says Chung Young Soo, at the state-run Korea Trade Promotion Corp.”

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 28th, 2007 at 12:30 pm and is filed under North Korea.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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