News / Asia

Koreas Agree to Reopen Kaesong Industrial Complex

In this photo released by Unification Ministry, South Korean delegates, right, shake hands with their North Korean counterparts at Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee meeting, Kaesong, North Korea, Sept. 11, 2013.
In this photo released by Unification Ministry, South Korean delegates, right, shake hands with their North Korean counterparts at Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee meeting, Kaesong, North Korea, Sept. 11, 2013.
Daniel Schearf
North and South Korea have agreed to reopen a jointly-run industrial park just inside the North Korean border on a trial basis starting next Monday.
 
The South's Unification Ministry says negotiators reached the deal on the Kaesong industrial complex following lengthy negotiations that lasted through early Wednesday.
 
Kaesong Joint Industrial Complex

-Started producing goods in 2004
-Employs about 53,000 North Koreans
-120 South Korean businesses operate there
-Hailed as rare example of North/South cooperation
-Generates $2 billion in trade annually for North
-Located 10 kilometers north of border
The two sides tentatively agreed last month to reopen the facility, which was effectively closed by the North in April. But the South was still looking for compensation for its companies hit by the closure.
 
The owner of one of the Kaesong factories, Rok-Sec Garments President Park Young-man, said he is very happy with the agreement, but that the process of getting back to business will take some time.
 
"Operating a business is like dealing with a living creature," he said. "The complex has been shut down for over five months. It will take lots of efforts, sacrifices and prices to normalize the complex completely."
 
The South's statement said the two sides agreed that South Korean companies would not pay taxes for this year. They also agreed to open the complex to foreign investors, which could make it harder to shut down operations in the future.
 
North Korean state media confirmed the September 16 reopening date, but offered no other details.
 
Moves to Ease Tensions Between North and South Korea

-Agreed to reopen Kaesong on a trial basis
-Reached a deal to allow 100 people from each side to attend a reunion in September
-Agreed to discuss resuming South Korean visits to Mount Kumgang, which were suspended in 2008
-Pyongyang recently said it is ready to revive the six-party nuclear talks, but that it will never give up nuclear weapons
Troy Stangarone, Senior Director of the Korea Economic Institute of America, called the deal an important step for Korean relations, but said he is skeptical that international companies will want to invest in Kaesong under the current circumstances.
 
"The challenge is going to be that most of these companies are going to want to see how the process moves forward," he said. "Are there any real assurances that the North Koreans will [keep] the complex open?"
 
North Korea pulled its 53,000 workers from Kaesong in April. It blamed rising tensions from joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises. It was also angry over expanded U.N. sanctions in response to its third nuclear test.
 
Since 2004, Kaesong has been an important symbol of cooperation between Seoul and Pyongyang, which technically remain in a state of war since their early 1950's conflict ended in a truce.
 
More than 120 South Korean businesses use Kaesong to manufacture a variety of products with cheap North Korean labor. In turn, the industrial park serves to provide vital foreign currency to the impoverished North.
 
Wednesday's announcement is the latest sign of easing tensions on the Korean peninsula. Last month the two Koreas also agreed to resume stalled talks on reuniting families forcefully separated six decades ago by the Korean War.

VOA Seoul bureau producer Youmi Kim contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.

You May Like

Photogallery Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid