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Inter-Korean Civic, Aid Exchanges to Suffer

Posted November. 26, 2008 03:44,   


In the wake of North Korea`s announcement to block overland passage across the inter-Korean border from Monday, humanitarian aid to the impoverished country is expected to suffer from sour bilateral relations.

Kang Yeong-sik, secretary-general of the (South) Korean Sharing Movement, said the North asked to postpone a visit by the charity group to Pyongyang for humanitarian aid from next month to next year. "The North is likely to suspend visits by humanitarian groups to Pyongyang for the time being to intensify tension at the (Gaesong) industrial complex," he said.

Also inevitable is the reduction of other inter-Korean exchanges in areas outside of Gaesong, such as investment projects and economic cooperation in goods processing and trading.

Dong Myeong-han, head of the inter-Korean cooperation department at the Small Business Cooperation in Seoul, said, "Only companies that have long conducted massive projects benefiting North Korea will survive. New projects are unlikely to be launched for the times being."

Negotiations on new business projects with the North are impossible due to the shutdown of an office on inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation in the Gaesong Industrial Complex, he said. Visits to Pyongyang for business cooperation will prove extremely difficult, with only large companies having branch offices in China expected to weather this storm.

If the North closes the Gaesong complex as another retaliatory action, however, the complete suspension of inter-Korean civilian exchanges is likely, increasing the risks to larger companies as well.