Kaesong Site to House 40 More Manufacturers

Korea Times
Lee Jin-woo

Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung said Thursday that some 40 small factories, mostly clothing manufacturers, will move into the joint industrial complex in North Korea this year.

But he said it would take more time for the ministry to fully resume the halted expansion of the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

Last September, the South Korean government decided to hold off expanding the inter-Korean business venture because of heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula after the North’s launching of ballistic missiles in July. After the Stalinist state’s first-ever nuclear test on Oct. 9, tensions increased further.

“We’ve decided not to postpone helping small South Korean manufacturers, which have been struggling with adverse domestic business conditions, especially high wages,” Lee said during a press briefing at the ministry.

The manufacturing companies will move into a new five-story building constructed by the state-run Korea Industrial Complex Corp. involved in a pilot project for the industrial complex.

Construction of the building will be completed by June. It is not related to the postponed sale of the second section of the industrial complex, the minister said.

The number of North Koreans working for the 18 South Korean firms at the industrial complex surpassed 10,000 last year.

When fully expanded by 2012, the complex is expected to house about 2,000 South Korean manufacturers employing about half a million North Koreans, according to the Ministry of Unification.

The minister, however, said more progress in the stalled six-party talks is necessary for the government to resume expansion of the project.

He said he will continue discussing the matter with the Korea Land Corp., a state-run land developer, which has been involved in the Kaesong project, and Hyundai Asan, the business arm of Hyundai Group that handles the Mt. Kumgang tourism project.

Lee said the government would not provide medical aid to the Stalinist state to help stem the spread of scarlet fever, an infectious disease.

“Scarlet fever is not a fatal infectious disease. Given the significance of the disease, we believe that North Korea itself will be able to solve the problem,” Lee said.

The ministry considered providing medical aid to the North after scarlet fever broke out in the northern part of North Korea last October.

Earlier, South Korean humanitarian aid groups shipped 36 types of medicine including penicillin and other antibiotics to Pyongyang.


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