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N. Korea admits operation of Kaesong Industrial Complex

Posted October. 08, 2017 07:00,   

Updated October. 08, 2017 07:41

North Korea has made a sudden acknowledgement about the partial resumption of the Kaesong Industrial Complex and its background is drawing attention. In response to the North’s announcement, the Unification Ministry of South Korea remonstrated and said, “North Korea should refrain from infringing on property rights,” but there are no suitable sanctions at place.

“It will be seen clearly how our workers are working (at the Kaesong Industrial Complex) proudly,” said Uriminzokkiri, Pyongyang’s official website, on Friday. “No matter what we do in the industrial complex where the sovereignty of our republic is exercised, nobody should care about it.” Uriminzokkiri’s commentary seems to be a reaction to the recent report by the U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA) that North Korea has illegally resumed the operation of 19 apparel factories in the industrial complex to produce clothes that are to be used domestically.

Accordingly, the South Korean Unification Ministry urged North Korea to immediately halt its operation, saying, “North Korea should refrain from infringing on property rights of South Korean companies. Our position regarding Kaesong Industrial Complex has not changed.” The ministry took a similar position in August when the Voice of America (VOA) reported that North Korea is illegally using South Korean-owned cars and trucks left at the suspended inter-Korean industrial complex. The assets of South Korean businesses and the government within the Kaesong Industrial Complex reach approximately 924.9 billion won in total, the South Korean ministry said.

Some point out that the Unification Ministry’s plan to build a platform for inter-Korean dialogues by having Kaesong Industrial Complex as a leverage ultimately has ended up in N. Korea’s illegal use of the complex. Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon repeatedly stated, “Reopening the Kaesong Industrial Complex shall become top priority once some changes are brought upon the North’s situation.” There was analysis that the operation of the Unification Ministry’s Policy Innovation Committee on Sept. 20, which looked into the previous conservative government’s decision to close the Kaesong Industrial Complex, was actually a “warming up” for the resumption of the Industrial Complex.