News / Asia

South Korean Lawmakers Visit Factory Complex in North

Ahn Hong-joon (L), chairman of the South Korean parliamentary's Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, and other lawmakers leave for North Korea at the inter-Korean transit office in Paju, near the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas, Oct. 30,
Ahn Hong-joon (L), chairman of the South Korean parliamentary's Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, and other lawmakers leave for North Korea at the inter-Korean transit office in Paju, near the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas, Oct. 30,
VOA News
A group of South Korean lawmakers traveled to a North Korean border village Wednesday to visit a jointly run industrial park that recently reopened following months of military tensions.

The 21 lawmakers and several Unification Ministry officials are expected to meet with South Korean businessmen during their visit to the Kaesong industrial complex, which lies 10 kilometers inside North Korea.

Soo-jin Park, a spokeswoman for the South Korean Unification Ministry, says the trip is more than just a routine inspection.

"The visit by the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee is separate from the routine parliamentary inspection, designed to evaluate the progress on the industrial complex's normalization," she said.

The facility was shut down in April after the North pulled its 53,000 workers during a time of unusually tense relations following Pyongyang's third nuclear test. It was reopened last month as ties improved, but production is only at 80 percent.

The 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
  • Was shut down for five months in 2013 during a period of increased tensions
Before crossing the border Wednesday, ruling party lawmaker Ahn Hong-joon said he hopes the trip can lead to a "new beginning" for the complex and for inter-Korean cooperation.

"We should look forward to a future that does not simply go back to the situation of six months ago, but leads to a new beginning by progressive development of the Kaesong industrial complex," he said. "Upon discussions of the normalization process, we, the National Assembly's Foreign and Unification Committee, will make an effort to build the South-North relationship upon trust, and act as a stepping stone for improvement overall."

Vice Unification Minister Kim Nam-sik is among the Seoul government officials taking part in the one-day trip. The group is not scheduled to meet with officials in Pyongyang, which has given mixed signals about restarting several cross-border economic projects.

In addition to agreeing to re-open their joint factory zone, the North and South recently reached a deal on restarting reunions between families separated by the 1950s Korean War. It would have been the first time in years that such a meeting was held.
 
But North Korea abruptly postponed the reunions, as well as talks on resuming South Korean tourism to Mount Kumgang, citing alleged hostility from Seoul.

Talks have also stalled on fully restoring operations at Kaesong, which uses cheap North Korean labor and South Korean know-how to produce mainly industrial goods.  

The factory, which opened in 2004, is an important source of revenue for North Korea and served as one of the last remaining signs of cooperation between Seoul and Pyongyang.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid