Ex-South Korean finance official proposes ‘6-party business talks’

SEOUL, Jan. 17 (UPI) — A former South Korean official is proposing “six-party business talks” with North Korea in hopes of increasing economic cooperation with Pyongyang.

In a recent interview with UPI News Korea, former Financial Services Commission Chairman Kim Seok-dong suggested building an international business city in Fangchuan, a Chinese village that borders Russia and North Korea.

Six-party talks surrounding North Korean nuclear threats fell apart in 2009 after six years of participation from North Korea, South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.

South Korea’s former top economic policymaker said an economic version of the talks could greatly boost not only the six countries but also the world.

“My idea is to build a multinational business city” in Fangchuan, said Kim, who headed the FSC from 2011 to 2013. “The city would be so attractive because it is connected to railways in Eurasia and routes in the North Pole … South Korea can construct the city. Then, the United States and Japan would be attracted to invest.”

He said South Korea can take charge of the construction because of its track record constructing several satellite cities around Seoul in recent decades.

“Another advantage of the city is that it is just 16 kilometers from the Pacific. The areas around Fangchuan are rich in natural resources and agricultural products, but they were not available through the Pacific,” Kim said. “The construction of a new international city will change that once and for all, thus creating a logistics revolution in the area.”

Kim said his proposal could help boost the global economy, which is grappling with rising debt, the U.S.-China trade war and other risks in emerging markets.

“Conventional tools like monetary, fiscal and foreign exchange policies are done. Simply, they don’t work any more. We are experiencing an unprecedented situation,” he said.

Kim said he will soon begin conducting joint research with Chung-Ang University in Seoul and organize international meetings with North Korean experts.

“I will try to raise global attention to the project so that the world can understand they need a new approach to deal with North Korean problems. And the new approach should be the Fangchuan project,” he said.

He added that his late brother, Kim Seok-chul — a renowned architect who designed the Seoul Arts Center — originally came up with the project idea.