News Item: "A regular freight train service over the heavily-armed border between North and South Korea could start before the end of the year, officials say. The deal, on the second day of talks between prime ministers from the two countries, marks the first agreed schedule for the train link."
Commentary: North Korean Prime Minister Kim Yong-il and South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo are spending three days in discussions in Seoul, the first prime ministerial-level meeting in 15 years for discussions on implementing the October 2007 summit agreements, including the inter-Korean railway service and a peace (and economic cooperation) zone in the West Sea (Yellow Sea). Defense ministers meeting is also planned for this month.
The inter-Korean railway will start on December 11. This is one week before the presidential election in South Korea on Dec. 19. The timing cannot be a sheer coincidence. It may signify that the momentum for inter-Korean rapproachement cannot be undone by the outcome of the presidential election in South Korea. Who would want to stop the trains that signify inter-Korean exchange, reconciliation and cooperation?
Related Document: Agreement at the First South-North Prime Ministerial Talks on Implementing the Declaration on the Advancement of South-North Korean Relations, Peace and Prosperity