Seoul mayor wants to build bridge of cooperation with North Korea

Park Won-soon says he doesn’t want politics to overshadow exchange between the two Koreas.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Nov. 10, 2016 at 1:30 PM
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SEOUL, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- The mayor of South Korea's capital says he wants to take a more amicable approach to relations with North Korea after months of tensions going back to Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test in January.

Progressive politician Park Won-soon said Thursday that Seoul city hall has plans to build "economic and cultural cooperation with the North," local news service Asia Today reported.

The project is based on the three principles of "common prosperity, separation from politics and citizen participation," Park said.

The initiative would cover the three areas of "infrastructure cooperation, economic cooperation and civic exchange" that aim to complete 10 tasks.

The mayor's first proposal would improve the water quality of the Taedong River in Pyongyang and to make water infrastructure enhancements.

Park's bold plan is to call the project the "North-South waterworks," designed to improve infrastructure in North Korea, where aging facilities and flood prevention is in urgent need of an overhaul.

In late August and early September, a typhoon resulted in extensive flood damage that forced hundreds of thousands of North Koreans out of their homes in a disaster that was described as the "worst since World War II" by Pyongyang's state media.

Other projects Park proposed include collaboration on animation production and on building solar panels that could reduce carbon emission on a road between Seoul and Pyongyang.

The road is currently not accessible from the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas.

Park said the projects would pick up on exchange that was neglected owing to South Korea's focus on the North Korea nuclear issue, according to local news service Dailian.

The Seoul mayor has been critical of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who has been at the center of a political scandal involving an influential friend suspected of embezzlement and gaining access to state secrets.

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