South Korea mulls North Korea rail, gas pipeline projects

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North Korea could get a boost from potential South Korea investments if détente is extended beyond the much anticipated summit between Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April.

While South Korea sanctions against the North are to remain firmly in place, Maeng Sung-kyu, Seoul's vice minister of transport at the land ministry, suggested Monday there is greater possibility the South could pursue abandoned projects, like an inter-Korea rail and natural gas pipelines connecting Russian resources to the peninsula, Asia Business reported Tuesday.

"We could connect rail so if you take the East Sea Line from Busan you could connect to Rajin-Hasan," Maeng said, referring, respectively, to South Korea's second-largest city and a North Korea border city that faces Russia.

Maeng also said if sanctions are eased the North and South could move forward with a Russian gas pipeline.

The potential projects may not move forward in the near future, however.

South Korea's Donga Ilbo reported Monday Seoul is acting cautiously and has decided to "suspend" a decision on the reopening of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a joint factory park in North Korea that was shuttered in 2016.

Former President Park Geun-hye approved the decision to shut down operations after her administration concluded revenue at the factories North Korea was earning were going directly to its nuclear weapons program.

Progressive analysts in South Korea have said there is no evidence the funds were being used by North Korea's military, but South Korea is not considering a reopening of Kaesong owing to international community opposition and North Korea's lack of response on "safety concerns" at the site, which has been closed for two years.

Kaesong business executives in the South said this week they plan to wait to hear from the current administration rather than act independently, according to the Donga.

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