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North Korea, South Korea to reopen Kaesong industrial park next week

By CNN Staff
September 11, 2013 -- Updated 1551 GMT (2351 HKT)
A South Korean soldier stands on a road linked to North Korea at a military checkpoint in Paju on Wednesday, April 3. North Korea has asked for talks to reopen the industrial complex, which is an important symbol of cooperation between the two countries. A South Korean soldier stands on a road linked to North Korea at a military checkpoint in Paju on Wednesday, April 3. North Korea has asked for talks to reopen the industrial complex, which is an important symbol of cooperation between the two countries.
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Kaesong: A North-South bridge
Koreans blocked from the North
South Koreans blocked from the North
South Koreans blocked from the North
South Koreans blocked from the North
South Koreans blocked from the North
South Koreans blocked from the North
South Koreans blocked from the North
South Koreans blocked from the North
South Koreans blocked from the North
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kaesong Industrial Complex is seen as a key symbol of inter-Korean cooperation
  • North closed it in April as military tensions with the South increased
  • Both governments now agree the zone's operation will not be affected by politics

(CNN) -- North and South Korea have agreed to reopen their joint industrial park on a trial basis next week, nearly five months after it was shut down, according to a press release from the South's Unification Ministry.

The Kaesong Industrial Complex is seen as a key symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.

According to the press release, "companies will begin re-operation from September 16 on a test run."

The date was set after hours of intense negotiations between the two sides.

The complex was shuttered in April by North Korea amid soaring military tensions.

North Korea agrees to family reunions with the South

North Korea expelled South Korean workers and suspended activity at the zone, which sits on the North's side of the Koreas' demilitarized zone.

Is North Korea's economy working?
Koreas meet on joint industrial complex

But the tensions have since eased, and the generally secretive North recently allowed a large Western media contingent to cover the 60th anniversary of the armistice that stopped the Korean War in 1953.

On August 14, the two sides reached a five-point agreement to open the complex.

As part of the agreement, both governments said the zone's operation would no longer be "affected by political situations under any circumstance."

The agreement also called for a joint panel to discuss compensating South Korean companies hurt by the closing.

The zone, which made its debut nine years ago, is considered an important source of hard currency for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's regime.

About 53,000 North Koreans worked at more than 120 South Korean companies at the complex.

It produced hundreds of millions of dollars worth of goods yearly.

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