South Korea's President Park offers North an 'opportunity' with railway link

South Korean President Park Geun Hye writing her name on a railroad tie during a ceremony near the North Korean border.
South Korean President Park Geun Hye writing her name on a railroad tie during a ceremony near the North Korean border. PHOTO: EPA

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean President Park Geun Hye offered North Korea a "door of opportunity" as she flagged off restoration work on Wednesday on a railway line that could one day link both Koreas with Europe via the Trans-Siberian.

The work will focus on the South's section of a disconnected inter-Korean railroad that once linked central Seoul with the North Korean eastern city of Wonsan.

South Korea hopes to reconnect the line and link it to Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway, an ambitious project which would cut logistics costs for trade with Europe.

"The doors of opportunity stand open for North Korea to join in this process," Ms Park said.

"I hope that North Korea will build a future for co-prosperity and development by opening its doors and choosing the path of change," she said, adding that she would seek US, Chinese and Russian support for the plan.

But past experience suggests the "Eurasia Initiative" faces a stiff challenge in securing the necessary inter-Korean cooperation.

The two Koreas have already restored two other cross-border lines - one in 2003 and another in 2006 - but both remain idle due to perennial simmering tensions between the two rivals.

The latest project was launched to mark the 70th anniversary of the Aug 15, 1945 liberation of the Korean peninsula from Japanese colonial rule.