DECEMBER 11 saw the first commercial freight service cross the Demilitarised Zone between North and South Korea when a train loaded with construction materials from Munsan in the south reached an industrial complex at Kaesong in the north. It returned south carrying footwear and clothing.

Operation of the train followed a summit held in October between President of South Korea Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. The first trains to cross the border ran on May 17 last year (RG 6.07 p327).

In the meantime, North Korea is reported to have agreed to set up a joint venture to rebuild the 55 km line from the border with Russia at Khasan to the port of Najin. The scheme would allow traffic from North Korea - and perhaps ultimately South Korea - to gain access to the Trans-Siberian main line and is expected to cost US$2·5bn.