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U.S. Approves Telecom Shipment to North

Posted November. 18, 2005 08:26,   


Korea Telecom (KT) has obtained U.S. approval to send telecommunications equipment to North Korea.

This is the first time that a Korean private company has received the green light from the U.S. Export Administration Regulations (EAR) regarding a transfer of goods to North Korea.

As a result, firms located in the Gaesong industrial complex will now be able to make direct phone calls to South Korea.

These telecom services have been delayed until now. KT announced on November 17 that the company received approval from the U.S. Commerce Department to bring telecom devices into North Korea.

The U.S. bans the shipment of similar products to “rogue” states, such as Iran, Syria, Cuba, Sudan and North Korea, if the products contain more than 10 percent of U.S. made components or technologies.

KT had originally planned to provide direct telecom services to South Korean firms in the Gaesong industrial complex in late May. However, the plans were delayed due to the U.S. EAR approval procedures.

KT intends to begin telecommunications services with about 2,000 telephone circuits within this year after close consultation with its North Korean counterpart regarding the details of the establishment of a communications network.

Firms operating in the Gaesong industrial complex have had to call via Japan to talk to South Korea, which cost about $2-3 a minute, and they often had difficulty communicating since only one circuit was available to them.

After the installation of direct phone lines, costs will be cut down to $0.40 a minute, and South Korean firms in the Gaesong complex will be able to work in a more effective manner.

Do-Young Kim Myoung-Gun Lee nirvana1@donga.com gun43@donga.com