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Is North Korea Concerned about the “Side Effect of Opening” of the Gaesong Industrial Complex?

Is North Korea Concerned about the “Side Effect of Opening” of the Gaesong Industrial Complex?

Posted January. 12, 2005 22:23,   


Events related to the Gaesong Industrial Complex have been relatively smooth-sailing despite the stalled dialogue between the political circles of the two Koreas. However, recently there have also been a series of disruptions because of unexpected “perversity” of the North.

A Series of Cancelled Events and Disrupted Assistance to the North-

On January 10, North Korea effectively refused 20,000 tons or some 5.4 million pieces of briquettes that the Korea Land Corporation and the Ministry of Unification decided to provide for heating of the Gaesong area, including the Gaesong Industrial Complex.

The declared reason for the refusal is that it is hard to transport such a large quantity of briquettes, which requires 2,000 units of 10 ton trucks, due to ongoing road improvements in Gaesong, and that it is impossible to mobilize manpower and vehicles to transport the fuel.

However, it is hard to accept the reason as it is, considering that it was the North which first requested the briquette provision in September of last year.

An official engaged in the Assistance Group for the Gaesong Industrial Complex Project said, “It seems that the North’s organization in charge of the Gaesong Industrial Complex project failed to secure final confirmations on their decision from high authorities,” adding, “There were probably criticizing voices within the North’s authorities over fuel assistance limited to Gaesong when all North citizens are suffering from the cold.”

In addition, the opening ceremony of a hospital in the Gaesong Industrial Complex by “YMCA Green Doctors” scheduled for January 11 was cancelled, as the North did not send an invitation letter. A government official said that discussions over the event was going well until January 10, and that officials at the North’s organization in charge of the Industrial Complex project also seemed puzzled at the situation.

Talks on follow-up measures for agreement on a communications provision that was made on December 30 of last year was delayed as well by a unilateral demand of the North.

The Anxious Government-

The government believes that the development in the North will not disrupt the Industrial Complex project itself. An official said that the refusal of briquette assistance and delay of the hospital opening ceremony are just a small part of the project, and that local plants are operating without disruptions and the engineering work for electronics supply is also going well.

North Koreanology Professor Nam Seong-wook of Korea University pointed out that the recent developments seemed to be caused by lack of communication after 70 percent of personnel engaged in the project were changed.

However, some government officials say that the North’s perversity is to press the South, citing Pyongyang has been complaining that fewer South Korean companies than expected moved into the Gaesong Industrial Complex.