Gaeseong to be exempt from labor laws

Korea Herald

South Korea and the United States have agreed not to apply International Labor Organization regulations to an inter-Korean industrial park in North Korea’s border city of Gaeseong, a South Korean lawmaker claimed yesterday.

Kim Won-woong, head of the National Assembly’s unification, foreign affairs and trade committee, said the Gaeseong industrial park is certain to remain an exception to the ILO’s labor rules, paving the ground for Seoul and Washington to designate Gaeseong as an “outward processing zone” (OPZ) on the Korean peninsula.

Gaeseong, located just north of the inter-Korean border, currently houses 23 manufacturing plants, which combine South Korea’s capital with North Korea’s cheap labor.

Under an FTA deal concluded at the beginning of this month, South Korea and the United States agreed to set up a joint OPZ review committee that will identify areas in North Korea that might be designated as OPZs and consider their qualifications if they meet the necessary criteria, including labor and wage practices. But the labor sector was expected to pose a dilemma as North Korea is not a member of the ILO, which stipulates three basic labor rights, namely the right to unionize, collective bargaining and industrial action.

“South Korea and the United States agreed to consider North Korea’s non-ILO member status and unique labor circumstances in the designation of OPZs in the communist state,” said Kim, citing a document he obtained from the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry.

In related news, the two Koreas agreed yesterday at the 13th economic cooperation talks in Pyongyang to continue discussing how to fortify the operations at the industrial complex from next month.

Gaeseong park is considered a signature inter-Korean project symbolizing the efforts of expanding exchanges.

South Korea, under the engagement policy of President Roh Moo-hyun, aims to gradually open up North Korea towards market economy for an eventual reform.


Comments are closed.