The Korea Herald


S. Korea to hold Pyongyang accountable over unauthorized use of Kaesong complex: minister

By Yonhap

Published : Dec. 12, 2023 - 21:24

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Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho attends a Cabinet meeting at the government complex in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap) Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho attends a Cabinet meeting at the government complex in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

South Korea's point man on North Korea said Tuesday the government will hold Pyongyang accountable for using South Korea-owned facilities at a now-shuttered inter-Korean joint industrial park in the North without permission.

Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho made the remark in a meeting with foreign correspondents in Seoul, as North Korea appears to be illegally running some 30 facilities at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, sharply up from 10 earlier this year, in the namesake border city.

"The government has filed a compensation suit over the North's explosion of the joint liaison office," Kim said, referring to the lawsuit the ministry filed with a Seoul court in June over the 44.7 billion won ($34.2 million) in damages incurred on the South Korean-built joint liaison office.

"Likewise, we will accurately determine the situation and also seek to hold North Korea accountable," he added.

South Korea shut down the industrial complex, once a symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation, in February 2016 in response to the North's nuclear and long-range missile tests.

Still, Kim said the government will deal with North Korea in a "restrained" manner despite heightened inter-Korean tensions following the scrapping of a 2018 inter-Korean military tension reduction agreement.

Following Seoul's partial suspension of the military accord in protest of Pyongyang's spy satellite launch in November, the recalcitrant regime has vowed to restore all military measures halted under the agreement and has been refortifying its border.

"Our government will sternly respond to North Korea's escalation of tensions," Kim said. "At the same time, we will manage the situation in an extremely restrained attitude so that such tensions would not lead to provocation."

Against such a backdrop, Kim urged China and Russia, both permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, to play more proactive roles in keeping check on Pyongyang.

"China and Russia appear to be very passive on introducing additional sanctions against the North," Kim said. "I believe China should play a more constructive role for peace on the Korean Peninsula as well as Northeast Asia."

The minister warned North Korea against the possibility of carrying out the third hereditary power succession, saying the biggest victims will be its own people.

At the same time, Kim said the North's move to put leader Kim Jong-un's daughter, known as Ju-ae, at the "main stage at an early phase" is a sign of its ongoing difficulties.

"It is probably aiming to strengthen internal unity by boasting its determination for a fourth-generation succession," Kim said.