News / Asia

Korean Industrial Zone Re-opens

Kim Kiwoong, head of South Korea's delegation, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Park Chol Su before their meetingKim Kiwoong, head of South Korea's delegation, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Park Chol Su before their meeting
x
Kim Kiwoong, head of South Korea's delegation, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Park Chol Su before their meeting
Kim Kiwoong, head of South Korea's delegation, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Park Chol Su before their meeting
TEXT SIZE - +
Daniel Schearf
— North and South Korea have reopened their joint factory zone in Kaesong, just north of their shared border. The restart is seen as the most substantial sign of warming relations between the two sides following tensions earlier this year over Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests.  

Lines of trucks and cars crossed South Korea's northern border checkpoint Monday morning on the way to Kaesong, North Korea.
 
About 800 South Korean managers and their staff entered the suspended, jointly run factory zone at Kaesong with materials and parts to restart production for the first time in months.
 
South Korean managers crossing the border Monday expressed joy and relief to be getting back to work.
 
Ji Yoon-tae, deputy chief of a South Korean company at Kaesong, says it has been very tough while the complex was shut down. He says he is sure his company has been having a hard time but, personally, it was really tough. From now on, he says, I hope everything works out well, that the complex becomes revitalized again, and everyone works for a vibrant Kaesong Industrial Complex.
 
Since its start in 2004, the Kaesong Industrial Complex was a resilient symbol of North-South cooperation, surviving numerous periods of military and political threats.
 
But Pyongyang in April pulled its contribution to the joint venture, some 53,000 factory workers, amid military tensions with Seoul and Washington.
 
After months of negotiating, the two Koreas last week reached a deal to reopen the industrial complex with a joint committee to resolve future problems.
 
South Korean companies say they lost about $1 billion  from the suspension of factories producing textiles, watches, and parts for electronics.
 
As compensation, the North and South Korea agreed the factory owners would be exempt this year from paying taxes.
 
Officials from the two sides have been holding weekly meetings to discuss further details, including legal protections for South Korean workers and whether the North Koreans who walked should receive compensation.
 
The two sides also agreed to invite foreign investment from October, a key demand of Seoul to add international pressure on Pyongyang to discourage future shutdowns.
 
South Korea's Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Choi Kyong-lim told the Seoul Foreign Correspondents' Club they hope many Chinese companies, in particular, will invest in Kaesong.
 
He says the importance of Chinese companies in Kaesong Industrial Complex is easily understood even if he does not explain. The location of Kaesong Industrial Complex is close to China. Also, he says, the regular wage in China is higher than the level of countries in Southeast Asia and continues to increase. He says it is important for Chinese companies to utilize North Korean labor at the Kaesong Industrial Complex where wages are low but productivity is high.
 
China is North Korea's closest ally and believed to have the most, though limited, influence over Pyongyang.
 
Choi says South Korean and Chinese officials discussed the legal aspects of products made at Kaesong during recent free trade negotiations.
 
But it is not clear how much interest Chinese, or any other foreign companies, would have in investing at the factory complex.
 
The risk of political problems is still high, say political analysts, despite much improved inter-Korean relations.
 
Cho Bong-hyun, with the Economic Research Center of the Industrial Bank of Korea, says Kaesong at least offers better guarantees than other North Korea investments.

He says some foreign companies have invested and produced in cities in North Korea including Pyongyang. The investment in other cities, he says, has more risks than the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The Kaesong Industrial Complex has been created under the regulation of the Kaesong Industrial Zone, he says, and it is being operated under the agreement between the two Koreas.
 
So the complex has less risk for investment than others. In addition, he says, Kaesong has better infrastructure for production than other regions so foreign companies prefer it to other cities.
 
Also Monday, the Korean Red Cross announced the names of 100 North Koreans and 96 South Koreans chosen for next week’s reunions of families divided by the Korean War.
 
Since 2000, the two Koreas have had 18 such limited reunions of families separated since the three-year conflict that began in 1950.
 
The popular exchange was halted in 2010 when Seoul blamed Pyongyang for the sinking of a South Korean navy ship that killed 46 sailors. But, as part of warming relations, the two sides agreed in August to resume the meetings.
 
About 22,000 Koreans were reunited with their relatives through the program since it started in 1985.

VOA Seoul Bureau Producer Youmi Kim contributed to this report.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid