(Repeats story that ran on May 5 with no change in text)
* Liberal Moon Jae-win expected to win May 9 South Korea
* Moon favours engagement with North Korea, economic
* Kaesong, symbol of inter-Korean ties, closed after missile
* Re-opening it may UN sanctions-officials, experts
By James Pearson and Ju-min Park
SEOUL, May 5 In February 2016, Yoo Chang-geun
and around 120 other South Korean businessmen frantically pulled
their staff out of the Kaesong Industrial Zone, jointly run with
North Korea. Seoul had ordered it closed after Pyongyang defied
international warnings and tested a long-range rocket.
Now, with South Koreans in next week's presidential election
almost certain to elect liberal Moon Jae-in, they have reason
for hope. Moon has promised to reopen the complex, the signature
project of the so-called "Sunshine Policy" of engagement with
North Korea pursued earlier this century.
“We are more hopeful than ever," Yoo says. "Moon might not
be able to reopen Kaesong right away but he will follow steps
toward it in the course of improving South-North Korean
But reopening Kaesong could go against the spirit of U.N.
sanctions to prevent money from going into North Korea's banned
weapons programmes, government officials and experts say.
And for Moon to justify a return to engagement, North Korea
would first need to at least signal a concession, said Lim
Eul-chul, a professor at Kyungnam University in South Korea.
“Most importantly, not to make further provocation, like no
more nuclear and missile tests. It can come out and show some
kind of forward-looking stance, even if it is just words," Lim
North Korea hinted at further nuclear tests as recently as
this week, saying it will bolster its nuclear force "to the
maximum" "in a consecutive and successive way".
The isolated country has carried out five nuclear tests and
a series of missile tests despite ever-tightening U.N. and other
international sanctions. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has
vowed to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile at any
time that can strike the mainland United States with a nuclear
WAGES DIVERTED TO WEAPONS
Born out of the first of only two summits between leaders of
the two Koreas in 2000, the Kaesong project opened to much
fanfare in 2004 as a model of commercial cooperation: capital
would come from South Korea and cheap labour from the North.
But critics say hundreds of millions of dollars paid to
North Korea over the years as wages for workers at Kaesong were
used to fund the development of nuclear weapons and missiles.
North Korea had demanded that the wages be paid to the state and
not directly to the workers.
Jong Kun Choi, who advises the 64-year-old Moon on foreign
policy, said the candidate believes better inter-Korean
relations is the best way to provide security on the Korean
Moon, the son of North Korean refugees who came to the South
during the 1950-53 Korean War, would end nine years of
conservative rule in Seoul if elected, a time when Pyongyang
stepped up its nuclear and missile tests.
"We want to be in the driver’s seat. Driving would mean
doing so very actively with the United States, and Pyongyang.”
But he acknowledged the next administration would inherit
"some very bad circumstances" that would make it difficult to
simply revert to the engagement policies of previous liberal
presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, who served from 1998
“How can we inject so-called Sunshine Policy into a
situation that is so different to 10 years ago?," Choi told
Moon, a human rights lawyer who was a top aide to the late
president Roh, has Washington worried his more moderate approach
could undercut efforts to increase pressure and sanctions on
Pyongyang, senior South Korean government officials said.
Moon's election would also complicate the deployment of the
Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system. He has
repeatedly said the incoming administration should decide
whether to deploy the anti-missile system and it should be
ratified by parliament.
'WILD CARD FACTOR
A conservative president in Washington and a liberal
president in Seoul may not necessarily be an incompatible mix,
said John Delury at Seoul's Yonsei University. Both Moon and
Trump, for instance, have indicated they would be willing to
meet with Kim Jong Un.
"There's the wild card factor," said Delury. "It takes us
back to one of Trump's first statements about North Korea where
he said why don't we talk to the guy. He shares a premise there
with South Korean liberals. Are these two guys really so out of
North Korea's state media has been quiet about the candidacy
of Moon, shielding him from the harsh invective usually reserved
for conservative leaders in Seoul.
The official KCNA news agency called former president Park
Geun-hye a "prostitute" being "pimped" by U.S. presidents and
blamed her "venomous swish of skirt" for rising tensions between
the two Koreas. It also insulted former U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon,
who considered a presidential run early in the year, calling him
a “wicked pro-U.S. element and dirty political philistine.”
Rhetoric aside, Moon has said it will be practically
impossible to renew dialogue with Pyongyang if it conducts
another nuclear test.
Yoo, who employed 430 North Korean workers at a
semiconductor parts manufacturing plant in Kaesong, said his
revenue has halved since he was forced to leave the industrial
zone last year.
A February survey conducted by the association of South
Korean companies that operated in Kaesong showed that two thirds
were willing to go back to Kaesong.
"We don’t want to see our companies leaving for China and
Vietnam. We want to go back to Kaesong, a symbol of South-North
economic cooperation," Yoo said.
Yoo likened the two Koreas to a divorced couple, saying
talks for resumption of the Kaesong project can be “a beginning
for the divorced couple to get back together,”.
(Additional reporting by Jack Kim, Editing by Soyoung Kim and