The historic inter-Korean summit is raising hopes for cooperation on social overhead capital (SOC) projects as the leaders of South and North Korea agreed on Friday to link cross-border roads and railways.
In the joint statement released by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after their summit, the two Koreas agreed to push forward the SOC projects agreed upon by late South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2007 for balanced growth and joint prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.
|In this photo taken on April 27, 2018, a man takes a photo of a bulletin that reads "The Steelhorse Wants to Run!" at a train stop no longer in use in a city of Gangwon Province near the border with North Korea. (Yonhap)|
As part of the first step, Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to connect cross-border roads and railways and upgrade the existing infrastructure, the two sides said.
The plan includes taking practical steps to utilize the Gyeongui railway, which links Shinuiju, a city on the Korean Peninsula's border with China, and Seoul.
During the summit talks, Moon said if the railroad is connected with the North, both South and North Korea can make use of trains in the future. Kim praised the quality of the railway that connects Seoul and PyeongChang, the site of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in February.
During the talks, Kim expressed the view that, if Moon were to visit Pyongyang, it would be better for him to use an airplane as the North's transportation infrastructure is inconvenient and has to be improved further.
Talks on infrastructure could not only potentially lead to an inter-Korean railway system but also raises the possibility for the construction of airports and other critical infrastructure facilities and the development of special economic zones in the North that can benefit from outside investment.
In the past two previous summits in 2000 and 2007, Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to cooperate to build a railway connecting the two Koreas, but the action was put on hold due to various reasons.
Government officials here said the inter-Korean cooperation on overall SOC projects can be discussed as the two Koreas are expected to hold working-level talks to execute the railway construction projects.
Kim Hyun-mee, the minister of land, infrastructure and transport, and Park Yong-man, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have been invited to join the official dinner hosted by Moon for Kim at Panmunjom.
The Construction Economy Research Institute of Korea (CERIK) said South and North Korea can select SOC projects that are mutually beneficial for the two sides and push them forward down the road.
Among others, CERIK suggested the two Koreas resume operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which was closed in February 2016 due to the North's missile launches and nuclear tests. (Yonhap)
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