It has been confirmed that North Korea would lift the freeze of South Korean assets within the Kaesong Industrial Complex. North Korea’s action comes in two years and eight months since it unilaterally froze the assets in February 2016, protesting against South Korea’s decision to shut down operations. With the freeze lifted, inter-Korean economic cooperation is expected to accelerate, in addition to President Moon’s ratification of the Joint Pyeongyang Declaration, which commits to normalize complex operations, on October 23.
The South Korean government and companies who have formerly operated in the North Korean complex are planning to visit to inspect the status of the assets. Reportedly, the facilities should be in moderate condition,
operated from time to time even after the complex was shut down.
Experts say that the recent decision may be a sign of re-opening the industrial complex. The leaders on both sides agreed to “place priority on normalizing Kaesong Industrial Complex and Mount Kumgang tourism as conditions allow” in the joint declaration signed in September. Some say that the Trump administration would express disapproval towards economic cooperation between the two Koreas, which is accelerating. South Korean presidential spokesperson Kim Eui-kyum said in a briefing held on the same day that “the complex will not re-open unless North Korean sanctions are eased,” ruling out any chance of over-interpretation.
Former companies of the Kaesong Industrial Complex were hopeful. CEO Lee Jong-duck of Young Inner Form,
a manufacturer of underwear, said that things were looking hopeful this time. SJ Tech, which manufactures auto parts, commented that only real change such as denuclearization and agreements between North Korea and the U.S. would ensure re-opening of the complex.
In-Chan Hwang firstname.lastname@example.org · Sung-Gyu Kim email@example.com