SEOUL, July 16 (UPI) -- North and South Korea met on Thursday at the joint industrial complex in Kaesong to discuss a wage dispute that had derailed dialogue between the two sides.
The chief of the South Korean delegation said he welcomed news of rainfall relief in drought-ridden North Korea, and that he hoped the Thursday meeting would provide similar relief to the standoff between Seoul and Pyongyang on the Kaesong dispute.
The meeting marked the first dialogue in Kaesong in more than a year, as a June meeting was canceled over North Korea's demand to raise monthly wages for factory workers from $70.35 to $74.
Seoul said the increase was unacceptable because it exceeded a 5 percent ceiling and Pyongyang said Seoul did not have a role in determining labor policy in Kaesong.
The two sides struck a different chord on Thursday.
"We think if we put our heads together in a sincere manner, all matters will find a solution," Lee said after the meeting began at 10 a.m., according to South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh.
North Korea's Pak said he also hoped for good results for "all our people" and for the South Korean enterprises that want the industrial zone to become a vibrant hub of activity.
The two sides agreed to work on the issues of traffic into Kaesong, communication and customs, and Seoul's representative took on a flexible attitude in wage negotiation.
South Koreans in Kaesong had requested an end to certain inconveniences, including lack of Internet access and a more fluid checkpoint.
Productivity at the factories has soared dramatically, according to Seoul.
From January to April, when a sharp dispute over wages began to overshadow the joint North-South industrial project, production value was estimated to have reached $186 million, up 25 percent from $148 million from the same period in 2014.
Kaesong Industrial Complex opened in 2005 when North and South Korea agreed to work together on an economic project that involved South Korean business know-how and inexpensive North Korean labor. The complex employs 55,000 North and South Koreans to manufacture shoes, clothing and other consumer goods.