SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea is supplying water in the North Korean border town of Kaesong using a facility in a now-shuttered factory park that had been jointly operated by the rivals.
The water is being supplied to a liaison office between the countries that opened in Kaesong last month and has been provided to the town's residents as well, South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said Wednesday.
He said the resumption of water supply does not violate international sanctions against the North over its nuclear weapons and missile program.
Using the facility that draws from a reservoir near the park, South Korea has been pumping 1,000 to 2,000 tons to the liaison office and about 15,000 tons to the rest of the city every day, Baik said.
"There are also humanitarian considerations as the residents of Kaesong have to rely on the park's facility for water," Baik said. "This has nothing to do with restarting the Kaesong factory park."
The Kaesong factory park was a major symbol of cooperation between the Koreas and an important income source for North Korea before the South's previous conservative government shut it down in February 2016 following a North Korean nuclear test and long-range rocket launch. The decision had also deprived Kaesong residents of what had been a steady supply of water and electricity.
South Korea is providing electricity to the liaison office, but Seoul has not said if the town's residents had South Korean-supplied power again as well.
The Koreas' decision to locate their liaison office in Kaesong, and also the large number of CEOs accompanying South Korean President Moon Jae-in's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang last month, indicate that Seoul is preparing to restart inter-Korean economic projects if nuclear diplomacy begins yielding results.
It's virtually impossible for South Korea to reopen Kaesong's factory park and embark on other joint economic projects under U.S.-led sanctions imposed against North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.
The opening of the liaison office last month was part of a series of moves by the Koreas to reduce tensions amid a global diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear standoff with the North. The Koreas have also resumed temporary reunions between war-separated relatives and reached military agreements to reduce tensions across the border.