The historic first of what will be a regular schedule of freight trains crossed the border from South Korea to North Korea today, marking a major leap forward in the countries' reunification process and a step toward what could be a hugely profitable railway system. The link is part of a plan to narrow the gap between the economies of the prosperous South and impoverished North.
South Korea's economy is 35 times bigger than its neighbor's, and its citizens earn 17 times as much. The South is hoping to eventually gain rail access to the rest of Asia and Europe by connecting the Korean system with the Trans-Siberian and Trans-China railways, which would significantly cut shipping times and costs. Last year, inter-Korean trade earned $1.35 billion.