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SK`s Approach to the Opening of Shinuiju

Posted September. 27, 2002 22:52,   


As the detailed operation plan for the Shinuiju special economic zone has been unveiled, the government began the examination of related laws and policies for visits of South Koreans to Shinuiju.

First, the government should decide whether it will instruct its people to follow the existing Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act or give them free access when they visit North Korea. For Shinuiju will take on a fresh implication as `a foreign city in North Korea`.

The government, however, decided to apply the existing Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act until detailed legislations are provided for the Shinuiju special economic zone. The government has set its position that Shinuiju as a North Korean city and its residents as North Koreans no matter how different the city is from other North Korean cities. It is undesirable to revise related laws on the South Korean part when South Korea has yet to figure out North Korea`s intention in operating the special economic zone. Moreover, there is no legal ground to get Shinuiju exempted from South Korea`s legal application.

But the government will give more flexibility in dealing with the issue.

Under the current Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act, South Koreans find it very difficult to visit and meet North Koreans. Hence the need to make the law less strict. Also there should be a special treatment for those who want to do business in the region since Shinuiju is a no-visa zone and businessmen are likely to have a lengthy stay there. In this context, the government is considering issuing a certificate to allow them to freely visit Shinuiju and extending the authorization period from the current three years.

If South Koreans stay in Shinuiju for a long time they might get a citizenship, or be elected as a member of the local legislature in accordance with the special zone act. But in this case, the government should take political approach rather than legal approach in order to come up with follow-up measures.

For their part, corporations will face complex problems. When South Korean companies form a partnership with a foreign company that advances into Shinuiju, the government should decide whether it regards the foreign company as a North Korean company and give it the status of cooperative partner based on the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act. And there are many more for the government to address.

A government official said, "The government will work out comprehensive measures while closely observing North Korea`s operation of the special economic zone."

He added, "For some time, however, we will have to solve, if any, problems case by case."

Young-Sik Kim spear@donga.com