North Korea on Tuesday said it is ready for talks to resume business in the Kaesong Industrial Complex if the South Korean factory owners visit.
The North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland in a statement said, "South Korean authorities need not worry unnecessarily about the owners' safety. They can send them together with members of the complex management committee if they are still concerned."
The industrial park was effectively shut 50 days ago after the North closed the border amid rising tensions.
Until recently, the regime rejected South Korean offers of talks to salvage goods and raw materials left behind at the complex, blaming Seoul for the closure.
Pyongyang cited annual South Korea-U.S. military exercises and South Korean media insults to its "dignity" as the reasons for the closure.
Tuesday's statement is only a partial concession since the invitation extends only to civilians rather than government officials members.
A Unification Ministry spokesman here accused Pyongyang of "a double attitude" because it had nothing to say about South Korea's offer of government-level talks.
"The North must clearly understand that such a divisive plot will not work," the spokesman added. "We once again strongly urge the North to come to the dialogue table immediately as we proposed if it really has the will to resolve the issue."
The North Korean statement was about 2,400 words long, only 197 of which were about Kaesong. The rest was devoted to lambasting President Park Geun-hye and her administration.
A South Korean government official said, "I wonder if the North really has the intention of holding talks given its continued denouncement of President Park."
Chung Young-tae of the Korea Institute for National Unification was equally skeptical. "The North is talking about normalization of the industrial park even though it's well aware that there will be no dialogue," he said. "The purpose is to sow disunity in South Korea and leave the South Korean government at a loss how to react."