About the Author
View more articles by Dagyum Ji
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
South Korea spent close to KRW10 billion on renovation works during the establishment of an inter-Korean liaison office at the now-shuttered Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), the ROK Ministry of Unification (MOU) announced on Wednesday.
A bill providing a total of KRW9.7 billion (USD$8.6 million) for the refurbishment was passed at the 298th session of the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council on Wednesday.
Funds will come from the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund.
The South Korean government renovated what is now the inter-Korean liaison office and accommodation for representative residents, along with, among other things, water purification plants and distribution stations.
Seoul and Pyongyang previously agreed to refurbish the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Discussion Office and staff accommodation within the KIC to facilitate the operation of the liaison office.
Since its opening last month, the South has also been providing water for the liaison office and North Koreans living in the Kaesong area.
Seoul spent a total of KRW7.9 billion (USD$7 million) and KRW1.6 billion (USD$1.4 million), respectively, on the renovation of facilities and accommodation and the repair works for supporting facilities, lawmaker Cheong Yang-seog said in an additional disclosure to press.
The MOU said the renovation works began in mid-July and were almost complete by late September, with construction workers residing in the Kaesong city.
Renovation and incidental expenses were calculated after the construction project was completed.
Seoul passed a bill spending KRW86 million (USD$75,998) on the renovation of facilities at the 294th session of the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council held in July.
The unification ministry also announced Seoul would finalize the expenses after the refurbishment works were finished.
“As we meet conditions to operate the office and provide convenience for personnel residents with the completion of renovation works as a momentum, it is expected that the office will be able to faithfully commit to its original missions,” the ministry said in a written statement.
“We will support the improvement of inter-Korean relations through the round-the-clock dialogue including inter-Korean talks and contribute to complete denuclearization and peace settlement on the Korean peninsula.”
The two Koreas have agreed to hold weekly meetings between the North and South Korean heads of the liaison office.
ROK vice unification minister Chun Hae-sung and vice-chairman of the DPRK Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC) Jon Jong Su have only met twice since its opening, however.
August saw the unification ministry announce the approval of a bill funding KRW3.47 billion (USD$3.06 million) for this year’s operating expenditures for the liaison office at the 295th Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council.
The Moon administration also allocated a total of KRW 8.3 billion (USD$ 7.3 million) to the operation of the liaison office in next year’s budget proposal on the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration in September.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Joint Press Corps