Most S. Korean companies in N. Korean complex plan more spending, survey shows


Most South Korean companies operating at an inter-Korean industrial zone in North Korea plan to increase their facility investment there, a survey showed Monday.

The survey, conducted by the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business, found that 87.8 percent, or 19 out of 24 companies operating at the North Korean border city of Kaesong, said they plan to boost investment levels.

South Korea began building the industrial park, located just 70 kilometers north of Seoul, in 2003 on a trial basis with the hope of creating a model for an eventual reunification of the Korean Peninsula. Currently, 26 South Korean plants employ about 16,000 North Korean workers who produce garments, kitchenware and a number of other goods.

If the industrial zone becomes fully operational by 2012, more than 350,000 North Korean workers will work there, according to the South’s Unification Ministry.

Last week, officials from the Koreas agreed to increase the minimum salary of North Korean workers at the Kaesong industrial complex by five percent to US$52.50 a month, marking the first pay raise since the complex’s launch.

The industrial park is one of the prominent symbols of inter-Korean reconciliation efforts following a landmark summit in 2000 between then South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.


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