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Kaesong Companies Told to Keep Staff to Minimum

Posted May. 24, 2010 13:20,   


An association of companies operating at the inter-Korean industrial complex in Kaesong, North Korea, has been asked to keep their permanent staff there to a minimum.

The move apparently reflects South Korea’s decision to put priority on the security of South Korean workers in Kaesong ahead of Seoul’s announcement of countermeasures against Pyongyang for its sinking of the Cheonan.

An informed source on North Korea said Sunday that a senior Unification Ministry official asked the association chairman to keep the number of South Korean workers at the complex to a minimum.

Seoul has banned South Korean businessmen and workers from visiting the North since the Cheonan sinking March 26. After the incident, the South said it will maintain the complex while discussing the possibility of reducing inter-Korean business cooperation projects.

Some 700 of 1,000 permanent South Korean workers at the complex returned to the South last week for the extended Buddha’s Birthday weekend. The number of those to return to Kaesong Monday will likely be reduced depending on President Lee Myung-bak’s message to the nation on the Cheonan sinking.

Since the incident, fears have been rising that the 1,000 South Korean workers in Kaesong could be held hostage by the North amid escalating inter-Korean tension. In March, when the North suddenly blocked road traffic from the South to Kaesong, South Korean workers were detained in the North for several days.