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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid