S. Korea to prepare for 2nd-stage development of N.K. industrial complex


South Korea will begin preparations for the development of a 2.5-million-pyeong area in the inter-Korean industrial complex in Kaesong, North Korea in the second half of this year, the Unification Ministry said Sunday. One pyeong equals 3.3 square meters.

The government will measure and conduct a geological survey of the land in the western North Korean border town for the second-stage construction of the industrial complex, the ministry said.

The construction project aims to build a 20-million-pyeong industrial base in three stages for South Korean companies by 2012. The complex, if completed, is expected to employ as many as half a million North Koreans to work for about 2,000-3,000 South Korean manufacturers.

The government originally planned to embark on the second-stage project last year, but had to put it off amid inter-Korean tension caused by the North’s missile and nuclear tests.

The ministry also said it plans to parcel out a 530,000-pyeong lot for South Korean manufacturers late next month. The land is the remainder of the 1-million-pyeong lot the South and North Korean governments have been jointly developing in the industrial complex.

The Kaesong industrial complex is one of the two major cross-border projects that South Korea has kept afloat in spite of U.S. opposition. The two Koreas also run a joint tourism project at the North’s scenic Mount Geumgang.

In the industrial complex, South Korean businesses use cheap but skilled North Korean labor to produce goods. Currently, 21 labor-intensive South Korean factories employ about 11,160 North Korean workers.

But U.S. hard-liners criticize the complex, claiming that the factories where North Korean workers earn about US$60 a month are actually channels to funnel much-needed hard currency to the tyrannical North Korean regime.


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