Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 09-7-15-1
Despite the fact that inter-Korean relations continue to be stalled, North Korea authorities reportedly provided approximately 1,300 new workers in June for businesses entering the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC). Despite the fact that there has been no progress in inter-Korean working-level talks between authorities involved in the KIC, the North is continuing to provide a labor force for South Korean businesses in the complex.
An official from the Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee verified that “approximately 1,300 new laborers were supplied last month,” and that “there are some young workers, as well, but the majority are 30 to 40-year-old women.” The official also explained, “the number of laborers was reduced slightly at the beginning of the year; while [their number] was insufficient, laborers continue to come…up until June of this year, while the number fluctuated, an average of around 700 per month [were provided].” Last year, the number of new workers each month was around 1,000.
New workers continue to be provided to the KIC, but there has also been a sharp increase in the number of workers quitting or being removed from their positions. At the end of June, there were 40,255 North Korean laborers; the overall number of workers provided by the North has only increased by 1,324 since the end of last year.
The source explained that at the beginning of 2009, more than 2000 construction workers quit. It appears, according to the numerous reports on the status of employment in the KIC, that the supply of workers is still insufficient, but that the North Korean authorities are working as hard as possible to provide what manpower they can.
North Korea’s Central Special Zone Development Guidance General Bureau recently held a general assembly for all North Korean labor representatives, and ordered them to “work to the max” in order to alleviate all complaints by South Korean businesses. However, as there has still been no resolution to the issue of constructing additional dormitories for the workers, this issue will continue to restrict growth in the number of North Korean laborers, regardless of the attitude in Pyongyang.