Kaesong Visit Possible Without Invitation

Korea Times
Kim Sue-young

South Koreans will now be more easily able to visit the Kaesong area in North Korea as an invitation from the North is not required, officials of the Unification Ministry said.

For visit to the joint inter-Korean industrial complex in the city, the North Korean association on economic cooperation used to issue an invitation but an admission ticket from the Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee (KIDMC) is now sufficient, they said.

“Recently, North Korean authorities which manage the complex and the committee agreed to abolish the invitation system during a discussion over rules on entry and stay,’’ an official said on condition of anonymity. “Instead, visitors should get a pass from the committee and long-term visitors who will stay for more than seven days should register at North Korea’s immigration office.’’

The two Koreas are talking over details to simplify the entry but have difficulties narrowing differences on the amount of charges that visitors should pay for the pass and registration, he said.

Officers of South Korean companies in the area, however, expressed worries over North Korea’s possible demand for expensive fees.

“Under the previous rules, visitors had to pay some amount of money when they obtained documents for stays, extended expiration dates or changed their addresses,’’ another official said asking to remain anonymous.

“Companies in the complex, however, may face problems doing business in the complex if the burden from those fees are heavier than the convenience brought by dropping the invitation system.’’

As for the worries from resident companies in Kaesong, the ministry official said, “It is unavoidable to impose some amount of money for guaranteeing a person’s identity.’’

Both sides are still discussing reasonable charges, he added.

Meanwhile, the North is pushing to establish a special economic zone on two islets located near the border of China. The zone is aimed at gaining China’s investment and reviving the declining economy, another source said.

Pyongyang is seeking to create a free trade zone on the Bidan and Wihwa islands on the Yalu River bordering China and has sounded out South Korean companies on their investment plans for the project, the source said.

The economic zone would specialize in areas such as trade, distribution, light industries and tourism, it added.


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