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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs