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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid