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[Opinion] Gaesong Pots

Posted November. 29, 2006 06:44,   


On December 15, 2004 at 11:00 a.m., pots came out from the conveyer belt of Living Art, the first occupant of the Gaesong Industrial Complex in Bongdong, Gaesong, North Korea. 1,000 sets of Gaesong were loaded onto trucks and sold at a counter of a department store in Seoul. 400 sets were sold in 15 minutes. It was the opening of the “Gaesong period” 4 years and 4 months after the construction agreement for the Gaesong industrial park between the South and the North was reached in August 2000.

The day before yesterday, after two years, the research division of the Seoul District Prosecutors’ Office indicted without detainment Gaesong’s Sonoko Cuisineware president Kim Seok-cheol and its predecessor Living Art president Kang Man-soo for allegations of misappropriating inter-Korean economic cooperation funds. They were accused of using 300 million out of a 3 billion won inter-Korean economic cooperation fund loan to pay back personal debts. As a result, the argument by the Ministry of National Unification that “Misappropriation of inter-Korean economic cooperation funds is institutionally impossible” has become a lie. Kim is also accused of illegal investor inducement.

The Inter-Korean economic cooperation fund was arranged in 1991 for inter-Korean exchange and cooperation. Funds used for the construction of the North Korea light water reactor, rice and fertilizer, the Gaesong Industrial Complex, and Mt. Geumgang business since 1998 amount to 4.47 trillion won. Despite the nuclear test, the Unification, Foreign Affairs & Trade Committee approved a 1.1855 trillion won inter-Korean economic cooperation fund for next year without any alterations. This is good news for North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Minister of National Unification Lee Jong-seok said in yesterday’s gathering with executives from institutions related to Gaesong Industrial Complex, “Even with North Korea’s nuclear test, it seems as though the Gaesong Industrial Complex’s business is going well.” However, without improvement of the relationship between North Korea and the U.S. through North Korea’s abandonment of nuclear weapons, there are no strategic materials and export to the U.S. This will be a great limitation for further development. How can they be so optimistic when they cannot even manage industrial complex occupants? Who will be take responsibility for that?

Gwon Sun-taek, Editorial Writer, maypole@donga.com