Posted September. 20, 2006 06:07,
It was revealed that North Korea had been insisting on opening an account at the Gaesong Industrial Complex branch of Woori Bank for six months since the first request it made to the South Korean administration committee of the Gaesong Industrial Complex through the General Bureau for the Guidance on the Development in the Central Special Zone (GB hereafter) which administers and oversees the Gaesong Complex on September 14 last year.
But the government did not disclose this fact for a year thinking that such a request by North Korea can be interpreted as an attempt to avoid the financial sanctions by the U.S. and can give bad influence on the South-North relationship.
Stubborn North Korea-
The first request by the North Korean GB to open an account was verbal, but the request was made again on paper in December last year.
While Woori Bank kept from giving a firm answer, North Korea asked the bank persistently to explain why the account installation was being delayed, and hearing the bank answer that opening an account would be difficult, even threatened the South Korean administration committee that it would close down the Gaesong branch of the bank. North Korea backed up a step when it saw the signs of this sensation spreading, saying, We didnt mean it (when we mentioned the close down).
The government held several meetings until March this year attended by officials of the Ministry of Finance and Economy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the National Intelligence Service regarding such request by the North. An official in the Ministry of Unification said, We had discussions on the backgrounds of the request by the North to open a bank account and the influences it could give to the South-North relations.
Woori Bank refused the account installation based on its policy that the banks only deals with the enterprises within the Gaesong complex and the South Korean resident workers, and this issue came to a pause when the North said in March it would not raise any more complaints, the government explained on September 19.
The behind the curtain story of why the government kept quiet about the request by the North to open an account is another controversy.
Only two days after September 14 last year when the North made its first request, the U.S. took measures to freeze the North Korean account of the Banco Delta Asia Bank in Macao. This fact gives us a hint on what North Korea was after when it attempted to make a financial account in Gaesong Complex.
Some people point out that the government could have been taking into consideration the fact that North Korea could be the target of another series of criticisms in case the request by the North is revealed to the world.