SEOUL – South Korea is seeking to link its railroad to North Korea with the rest of the continent as part of a plan for the potential unification of the peninsula.
The South’s Unification Ministry called on the North to discuss the extension into China of the 27-km track that spans the border, it said in an emailed statement Monday. Separately, the unification, foreign and defense ministries presented President Park Geun-hye with a plan to enact a law to increase the number of civil servants trained to prepare for an eventual joining of the nations.
“It’s time to implement specific projects one by one with a sense of calling that unification is no longer an impossible dream but a future we can create ourselves,” Park said in a ministry briefing today, according to a statement on her office’s website.
South Korea is trying to boost dwindling public enthusiasm for unification with a northern neighbor that struggles to feed its 24 million people. A year ago, Park said unification could be an “economic bonanza” that combines South Korea’s capital and technology with the North’s labor force.
On Jan. 12, Park said she was willing to hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without preconditions. It came after Kim said in his New Year speech he was open to the “highest-level” talks with the South, which would be the first since 2007.
Officials from the two countries have not held talks since military generals met in October inside the demilitarized zone, a by-product of a visit by members of Kim’s inner circle to the South that month.
North Korea has yet to respond to South Korea’s offer last month for a resumption of talks.