North and South Korea Hold Talks And I Was There!

Well, not at the talks, but I was at the border.  In fact, I was actually (briefly) in North Korea!

North and South Korea Hold Talks on Shuttered Plant –

Kaesong is big money for N. Korea.  The companies pay the country, which then pays the workers.  I also found out today that the companies provide food, but not rice – the workers have to bring their own.  Our guide said this was because the North doesn’t want the workers to know how much better quality the South’s rice is.  The workers also receive  2 “moon pies” every day.  Groups of 5 or 6 workers pool the pies – every day one worker gets all the pies, which are then sold on the black market.  They bring in the equivalent of a month’s wages.

Back in April, at the height of tensions, the plant was closed.  But now the North wants money, and the workers need jobs, so the 2 sides are back at the table.

The Kaesong complex had been the centerpiece of joint projects launched when the liberal governments in Seoul introduced a period of inter-Korean rapprochement between 1998 and 2008. All those projects were suspended as relations deteriorated in the later years. The current South Korean leaders were more skeptical of North Korea, which continued to develop its nuclear weapons programs despite years of economic aid and diplomatic engagement.

Their attitude was reflected in their repeated rejection of a North Korean proposal to meet in Kaesong. They insisted that both sides meet halfway, on the border.

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