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Bernhard Köppen

Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Along the Korean Demilitarised Zone: A Feasible Pathway Towards An Accessible North Korea?

The Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between the Republic of Korea (RoK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is judged to be the last border of the Cold War. Although no peace treaty has been signed after the Korean War, astounding changes in the South-North relations could be observed between the late 1990s and 2010. Although severe provocations of the North finally led to a new stop of a further rapprochement, the unexpected reconciliation process started in 2000 by South Korea not only led to a temporary detente, but also showed spatially manifested results. Two Special Economic Zones, one dedicated to tourism and the other to industrial production, had been established in the DPRK near the DMZ. What is the appropriate interpretation of those diffident cross-border activities which lasted for almost a decade? Were these SEZs really first successful attempts at feasible Korean cross-border cooperation? Summing up all knowledge on North-Korean SEZ policy and the general state doctrine, it seems that real cross-border cooperation could not be an option for the DPRK's current leadership, either before or after South-Korea's adoption of Sunshine Policy.