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Limits of inter-Korean economic cooperation and ways to make progress Updated: 2019-09-20 16:06:57 KST

It was when the two Koreas held a groundbreaking ceremony to link and modernize their railways and roads that inter-Korean economic cooperation took a big step forward after the 9.19 Pyeongyang Joint Declaration.
South Korea hoped that connecting their railways and roads would bring peace and prosperity to Northeast Asia and expand its economic reach into the Asian continent.
But the next step was impeded by the failure of the Hanoi summit between North Korea and the U.S. because building transport links would have to go in tandem with North Korea's denuclearization.
Since then, there has been no progress on any of the two Koreas' main projects the transport links, reopening the inter-Korean factory park at Gaesong or tours to North Korea's Mount Geumgangsan.
But experts say there are ways to get things going.

"Once North Korea dismantles the Yeongbyeon nuclear facility, then I believe the bargaining partners will be able to gain a certain level of trust between each other. And then, the U.S. and the international community, including South Korea, will be able to release some parts not all of the sanctions against North Korea. And at that stage of bargaining of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, then they will be able to aim at more ambitious goals in the future."

And such ambitious goals can be achieved thorough the 'peace economy' a key policy goal of the Moon Jae-in administration.
Officials in the government say peace and prosperity form a virtuous circle each reinforcing the other.

"Instability in terms of peace hurts the overall economy in areas such as industry and capital markets. So economic prosperity can be maximized if it's based on peace. The same goes the other way around. When we have achieved high level of economic cooperation and have built a common understanding, this is what requires the two sides to contain any conflict. So it serves as an opportunity to consolidate peace."

To build lasting peace, the unification ministry will continue to review the information shared with North Korea regarding their economic cooperation to find ways to make progress.
Hong Yoo, Arirang News.
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