A pilot operation of the new electronic entry system, or radio frequency identification system (RFID), to facilitate the travel to and from the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) was completed on January 15 and pilot operation began from January 28, 2014.
According to a Ministry of Unification (MOU) official, “The construction of the system began from December 11 last year and it was completed this month on the 15th. The trial operation period will begin from the 28th.”
The RFID system was agreed upon last September at the second meeting of the South-North Joint Committee for the Kaesong Industrial Complex in order to improve the South Korean companies’ access to the KIC.
The new RFID system will replace the paper document inspection with an electronic card system and personnel screening will be reduced to 5 seconds from 13 seconds while vehicle screening time will be reduced to 7 seconds from 15 seconds.
In particular, the reduced inspection time will facilitate the travel and ease the heavy traffic during Monday mornings and Friday afternoons: for personnel screenings, from 17 minutes to 5 minutes; for vehicle inspections, from 19 minutes to 8 minutes.
However, the existing personnel and vehicle access to the KIC which requires a 3-day advance notice still remains in effect, and the mobility of personnel and vehicles will still be strictly monitored and chaperoned by the North Korean military.
On the other hand, the fourth round of the sub-panel meeting was held on January 24 to discuss the operation of the RFID system, Internet connectivity, and simplification of customs process at the KIC.
In regards to the streamlining of the customs process, the two countries agreed to change it from ‘complete’ to ‘selective’ examination, but differences still remain over the ratio to be applied to the selective probe.
As for the issue of Internet connection, it is still in the infant stage and the two sides agreed to resume the negotiation on February 7.