South Korea's ruling party chief plans to visit the joint industrial complex in North Korea later this week, an official said Tuesday, as tensions still run high between the two rival states following the North's deadly attacks on the South last year.
Rep. Hong Joon-pyo of the Grand National Party will visit the factory park in the North Korean border city of Kaesong on Friday, a ruling camp official said, adding that Pyongyang has also agreed to Hong's trip to the complex.
Hong has called for Seoul to exercise flexibility on its policy toward Pyongyang to improve their frayed ties. Earlier this month, Hong proposed a project to help the North's agricultural sector and said he is willing to visit the Kaesong complex.
The factory park is the last-remaining symbol of inter-Korean rapprochement that had boomed following their first-ever summit in 2000. The complex was designed to combine cheap North Korean labor, and South Korean capital and technology.
Currently, more than 46,000 North Koreans work at about 120 South Korean-run factories there.
Relations between the two Koreas turned sour after President Lee Myung-bak took office in early 2008 with a pledge to link aid to the communist nation to progress in efforts to end Pyongyang's nuclear programs.
The ties exacerbated further last year after North Korea's two deadly attacks on the South.