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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

ILO: Women Still Losing Out in Global Work Place

International Labor Organization says women are marginally better off now than they were 20 years ago 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More