News / Asia

Joint Complex May Close Soon If Pyongyang Keeps Blocking South's Access

South Korean vehicles turn back after being refused for entry to North Korea's city of Kaesong, at the customs, immigration and quarantine office in Paju, South Korea, near the border village of Panmunjom, April 3, 2013. South Korean vehicles turn back after being refused for entry to North Korea's city of Kaesong, at the customs, immigration and quarantine office in Paju, South Korea, near the border village of Panmunjom, April 3, 2013.
x
South Korean vehicles turn back after being refused for entry to North Korea's city of Kaesong, at the customs, immigration and quarantine office in Paju, South Korea, near the border village of Panmunjom, April 3, 2013.
South Korean vehicles turn back after being refused for entry to North Korea's city of Kaesong, at the customs, immigration and quarantine office in Paju, South Korea, near the border village of Panmunjom, April 3, 2013.
VOA News
An official representing South Korean companies working at an enclave just inside North Korea says Pyongyang must stop blocking access to the site to South Korean workers within the next few days of the enterprise is to continue functioning.

“In my opinion, this week is the limit that we can possibly bear. If the ban is not lifted by next Monday, the situation would be deteriorated, which would lead to suspension of operation or a development that cannot be handled by us,” said Ok Sung-seok, vice-chairman of The Corporate Association of Kaesong Industrial Complex (CAKIC).

The group is an association of South Korean businesses operating in the Kaesong enclave.

Ok spoke with VOA’s Korean Service on Thursday by telephone from Seoul. 

North Korea, Kaesong Industrial ComplexNorth Korea, Kaesong Industrial Complex
x
North Korea, Kaesong Industrial Complex
North Korea, Kaesong Industrial Complex
On Wednesday, the North barred South Korean workers from entering the complex, which is just north of the frontier separating the two nations. Pyongyang also allowed South Korean workers already in the Kaesong complex to return home.

The move is seen as a follow-up to the North’s threat last week to shut down the complex to protest what it said were South Korean insults. It did not specifically describe the alleged insults, but analysts in Seoul believe South Korean media reports suggesting that the North kept the complex open to earn hard currency might have angered Pyongyang.    

According to South Korea’s Unification Ministry, as of Thursday over 200 South Korean workers had returned to the South, leaving more than 600 South Korean workers still in the complex.

Ok said most companies at Kaesong are still in operation despite the latest restrictions, though some are reporting shortage of supplies and some basic necessities.

“Food will be running out if the situation continues through next week and this will become a serious problem,” Ok said.

Ok added that the private companies are doing all they can to stay in operation, though three of them have suspended operations after running out of fuel.

Asked about the safety of workers still inside the complex, Ok said “as of now, there aren’t any problems.” He added that he was still able to communicate with workers at Kaesong using landline telephones assigned to the companies.

Earlier, the North cut off official communications channels with the South, including a military hotline that had been considered essential in operating the complex.

The Kaesong complex, located six miles north of the heavily fortified border, employs over 53,000 North Korean workers and is home to 123 South Korean businesses.  

Ok said there were no “noticeable changes” in the North Korean workers’ attitudes toward the South Korean workers because of the latest development.

“It is pretty much the same before and now,” he said. “Also, there is no change in the atmosphere as well as any noticeable changes in attitudes of North Korean employees.”

The inter-Korean Kaesong complex is mainly funded by South Korea and has been the last remaining symbol of cooperation between the two nations, which are still technically at war.

The two sides agreed on building the complex in June of 2000 as part of an agreement from the first inter-Korean summit at the time. The complex has been producing various goods ranging from textiles to kitchen utensils since it began operations in 2004, with the equivalent of more than $90 billion in an accumulated output so far.

The North could lose more than $90 million a year in hard currency that it collects for the North Korean workers’ wages if Kaesong is shut down.

Ok called on both the North and South Korean governments to deal with the issue urgently and separately from inter-Korean politics.

“The Kaesong complex is not a place for politics. It is an industrial complex for entrepreneurs where they produce goods.”                      

Reported in Korean by Kim Hwan Yong for VOA Korean Service. Written in English by Jennifer Yoo

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
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