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

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
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 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 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.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid