South Korea admitted into OSJD on North Korea’s approval  

Posted on : 2018-06-08 16:18 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Could be stepping stone for linkage between TKR and TSR
A freight train - 1.2 kilometers long with 80 cars - recently test-operated by the Korea Railroad Corporation (Korail). (provided by Korail)
A freight train - 1.2 kilometers long with 80 cars - recently test-operated by the Korea Railroad Corporation (Korail). (provided by Korail)

South Korea became an official member of the Organization for Cooperation of Railways (OSJD) on June 7 after an approval vote by North Korea. Its admission means the way is now open for it to take part in operating a “continental railroad” line.

The South Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) reported on June 7 that South Korea’s admission as a regular member was unanimously approved at an OSJD ministerial conference in Kyrgyzstan. OSJD is an association of countries operating railways in Eurasia, with 28 official members including North Korea, China, and Russia.

South Korea previously attempted to join as an official member in 2015 but was stymied by repeated objections from North Korea. The organization’s articles of association require unanimous approval by existing members for a country to be newly admitted. In an apparent reflection of its conciliatory mood and pursuit of economic cooperation, North Korea changed its position to support the South’s admission at the latest meeting, allowing it to gain entry.

South Korea’s official membership in the OSJD means it will be able to take part in the operation of 280,000km of international railway lines in Eurasia, which include the Trans China Railway (TCR) and Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR). OSJD members are entitled to transport passengers and freight without the need for separate agreements with countries where the railways pass through.

Economic cooperation – including the linkage of South and North Korean railways – is expected to gain momentum if a denuclearization agreement is comfortably reached and international economic sanctions lifted following North Korea’s upcoming summit with the US. In recent high-level talks, South and North Korea agreed to hold a working-level subcommittee meeting late this month to discuss ideas for linking their railways with roads.

Meanwhile, the South Korean government stressed the need for North Korea’s participation after reaching an agreement with Russia on pursuit of economic cooperation in nine areas, including gas and rail. Appearing as senior representative at a 17th South Korea-Russia Economic Science Technology Committee meeting in Seoul on Jun. 7, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategy Finance Kim Dong-yeon said, “Only with North Korea’s participation can the disrupted Korean Peninsula railway be linked with the Siberian railway, allowing Russian pipe gas into South Korea and enabling linkage of the Korean Peninsula power grid for efficient electricity production and consumption.”

“If favorable conditions are formed internationally, we may be able to seek avenues for shared prosperity for South and North Korea and Russia,” Kim said.

In their agreement that day, South Korea and Russia made plans to pursue general cooperation and flesh out their “nine bridges” of cooperation, including gas, railroads, seaports, electricity, Arctic shipping routes, shipbuilding, industrial complexes, agriculture, and fisheries.

By Heo Seung, staff reporter

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