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Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
A delegation from the South Korean Presidential Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation will visit Rason city later in the week, the Ministry of Unification (MOU) announced on Wednesday.
The unification ministry earlier in the day reportedly granted, in consultation with relevant ministries, the ROK delegation permission to travel to the DPRK’s northeast between Friday and Saturday.
The DPRK National Economic Cooperation Federation (민족경제협력연합회), the unification ministry said, invited the South Korean committee, which was established last year with the purpose of boosting cooperation in economic sectors between the DPRK, ROK, and Eurasia.
A total of 11 South Koreans, including committee chairman Song Young-gil, will travel to the DPRK city.
During their visit, the ROK delegation is scheduled to attend an international seminar hosted by Russia, as well as to visit sites including the port of Rajin.
Seoul, Pyongyang, and Moscow previously worked together on a joint logistics project in the area – first designated a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) by Pyongyang in 1991 – until January 2016, when work was suspended by Seoul in the aftermath of the North’s fourth nuclear test.
A summit in June saw the South Korean and Russian Presidents confirm mutual interest in constructing railways connecting the two countries to Europe and on developing a Rajin-Khasan train line.
Moscow and Seoul reached an agreement “based on the common understanding that the realization of grand-scale infrastructure project on the Korean peninsula will contribute to peace and prosperity of Northeast Asia,” according to a joint statement issued after the talks.
Both also sides “affirmed their intention to cooperate in various railway projects including one co-utilizing the Rajin-Khasan Railway as soon as a favorable atmosphere is established.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a news conference after the summit said Moscow had “agreed to work hard on the Korea-Russia bilateral track and carry out the plans that are feasible now” in preparation for trilateral cooperation projects between the two Koreas and Russia.
The involvement of the DPRK’s National Economic Cooperation Federation is also noteworthy.
The organization served as a point of contact for ROK companies during the inter-Korean economic cooperation of the 2000s, while also managing several companies including the Koryo Commercial Bank, according to a unification ministry database.
A representative of the organization participated in inter-Korean talks during the 2000s and in a meeting between the late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and president of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) Kim Yong Nam.
DPRK delegates to this year’s inter-Korean high-level and working-level talks have represented what the unification ministry told NK News is a different organization, however: the National Economic Cooperation Committee (민족경제협력위원회).
Pyongyang announced the establishment of the committee through a decree of the Presidium of the SPA in June 2005, and the MOU previously described it as an expanded and revised version of the National Economic Cooperation Federation.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Ray Cunningham