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
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

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

update Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess 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.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs