North Korea Lifts Curbs on Border With South Korea

By Kurt Achin

North Korea has lifted tough restrictions on cross-border traffic with South Korea, normalizing the flow of goods and personnel to and from a joint industrial park in the North.

A South Korean Unification Ministry spokeswoman says the border will open 23 times a day to traffic to and from Kaesong, up from the current six times.

The spokesman says the number of people and vehicles allowed to cross the border at one time will no longer be restricted.

Kaesong is home to some 110 South Korean-run factories that employ about 40,000 North Korean workers.

The opening of cross-border traffic is one of several recent gestures Pyongyang has recently made in an apparent bid to improve relations with Seoul.

Relations between the two countries began to deteriorate early last year, when conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office.  Pyongyang has protested Mr. Lee’s tough policies, such as linking aid to the North’s nuclear disarmament.

In August, after months of provocations – including a long-range missile launch and two nuclear tests – North Korea released two American journalists and a South Korean worker.

Just last week, North Korea resumed joint projects and set a date for the reunion of families separated during the Korean War.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

Photo credit: Inside the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Military Demarcation Line sign on the south side of the Bridge of No Return.