The United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon will visit North Korea particularly the Kaesong Industrial Park, a collaborative economic development with South Korea located six miles north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
Ban Ki-moon hopes to improve ties between North & South Korea
Ban Ki-Moon will visit the joint project of North and South Korea in effort to improve the relationship between the two countries. The Kaesong Industrial Park opened in 2004, which serves as a source of foreign currency for North Korea.
South Korean companies were operating in Kaesong Industrial park employed approximately 53,000 workers from North Korea and 800 employees from South Korea as of April 2013. The wages of the North Korean workers ($90 million per year) were paid directly to their government.
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North Korea decided to remove all of its workers from the industrial park on April 8, 2013—the Korean crisis. All the operations in the industrial park were shut down at the time. A few months later, on August 15, North Korea agreed with South Korea to reopen Kaesong Industrial park—the last major cooperation between the two countries.
Ban Ki-moon will be the first UN leader to visit North Korea since 1993 when Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the sixth UN Secretary General visited the country. According to him, he wants to meet the North Korean workers in Kaesong Industrial Park. Ban Ki-moon is yet to decide which officials in Pyongyang he intends to meet.
During his visit in South Korea on Tuesday, Ban Ki-moon said, “The Kaesong project is a win-win model for both Koreas. It symbolizes a good aim to tap the advantage of South and North Korea in a complementary manner. I hope my visit will provide a positive impetus to develop further it and expand to other areas.”
Ban Ki-moon visited the Kaesong Industrial Park in 2006 when he was the Foreign Minister of South Korea.
Most recently, the future of Kaesong industrial park was put to uncertainty again as North Korea demanded a wage increase for its citizens employed by South Korean companies. Pyongyang did not consult Seoul regarding its demand.
North Korea may not welcome talks on nuclear program with Ban Ki-moon
Chang Yong-seok, an analyst at Seoul National University, Institute for Peace and Unification Studies was skeptic whether Ban Ki-moon’s trip to North Korea would result in a breakthrough.
According to him, North Korea would accept Ban Ki-moon’s visit to the Kaesong Industrial Park because it would help attract foreign investment, and improve its economy. However, he suggested that it would not welcome his visit to Pyongyang to discuss its nuclear program.
Ban Ki-moon emphasized in his previous remarks delivered on his behalf by UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson that “eliminating nuclear weapons is a top priority of the United Nations.” He also warned of the dangerous return to cold war mentalities.
Concern over North Korea’s nuclear program
The international community is becoming increasingly concerned regarding North Korea’s expansion of its nuclear program. It was reported that Pyongyang likely have a dozen nuclear weapons, and it could have as much as 20 nuclear bombs by the end of 2016, and as much as 100 by 2020.
North Korea tested its nuclear weapons in 2006, 2009, and 2013. It is also conducting frequent missile tests. President Kim Jong-un recently instructed the country’s military to be fully prepared for war and tested its new anti-ship cruise missile.
North Korean Foreign Minister claimed that his country had the resources to cope with the “ever increasing nuclear threat,” and warned of pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States if necessary, during a previous Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.