Kaesong Complex Continues to Grow

According to Yonhap:

The number of North Korean workers at a South Korean-run industrial complex in the North Korean border city of Kaesong rose 22 percent every month over the past one and a half years, the South’s Unification Ministry said Wednesday.  Production increased 36 percent every month due largely to a rise in the number of South Korean factories operating in the complex, according to the ministry.

As of Friday, a total of 6,859 North Korean workers, including 1,047 construction workers, were registered at the complex.

“Some North Korean workers even took annual leaves after their work period was more than one year old. So far, about 120 workers used their annual leaves,” said Go Gyeong-bin, the director general of the Kaesong industrial complex project office at the ministry.

In November 2004, several South Korean companies hired 255 North Korean workers when they moved into the complex at its opening.

The complex, still in its pilot stage, is now home to 11 South Korean companies that produce garments, kitchenware and shoes.

Go said four of them, such as apparel maker Shinwon Co. and socks manufacturer Sunghwa, sent a total of 53 North Korean workers to China for technical training.

“Since the first product was made in December 2004, the total output has amounted to US$27.46 million, which means a monthly average rise of 36 percent. In particular, production exceeded $5 million in March, a 40 percent rise from February,” he said.

The Kaesong industrial complex, located just north of the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas, 60 kilometers, or a one-hour drive from Seoul, is the flagship project for inter-Korean cooperation, combining South Korean capital and expertise with the North’s cheap land and labor.

The North Koreans work with about 300 South Koreans in Kaesong.

South Korea hopes to promote the Kaesong complex as a role model for inter-Korean economic partnership, while officials in Washington express concern over its possible negative impact on the multilateral efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.


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