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Joint venture aspires to launch own brand in Kaesong park

Joint venture aspires to launch own brand in Kaesong park

Posted July. 12, 2013 06:34,   


After a few workshops and cafes from the exit 6 of Heyri Art Village in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, the “Kisone” store was visible with a sign bearing the Korean Peninsula. It opened on a 66 square meter land on June 30 with a different sort of clothes from male suits, blue jeans, inner wear, and outdoor wear. The picture of the Kaesong Industrial Complex on the ceiling made me guess that it is different than any other clothing shop.

Kim Jin-hyang, CEO of Kisone and head of the Korea Peace Economic Institute, said, “Kisone is a joint venture in the Kaesong Industrial Complex with a hope that ‘Korea is one.`” It is a joint venture with 300 million (266,500 U.S. dollars) in paid in capital funded by six textile companies in the complex including Sunghwa, 9 JIT, and Team Sports.

It has been exactly a decade on June 30, 2013 when Kisone launched its first store since the groundbreaking ceremony of Kaesong Industrial Complex. Kim and other businessmen in the complex who set a goal of releasing a “joint total fashion brand” by companies in the complex in the beginning of the year, faced obstacles in April when the operation of factories in the complex was suspended but they pushed for it.

“Things were not good amid the strained inter-Korean relationship, but we opened a store on the date to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the groundbreaking ceremony of the complex. As many companies in the complex supply goods to large companies, they dream of having their own brad. When the complex resumes operations, the business owners will be able to realize their dream a lot faster.”

Their plan to bring goods produced 100 percent in the complex did not work. They filled products from companies with factories in South Korea and inventories from the complex. The brands were different such as "Divot" for blue jeans and “Runuff" for outdoor wear.” Nine Mode, which produces dress shirts, was not able to place their goods at the store despite its investment in Kisone due to the suspension of the complex.

Kim said, “We just collected and displayed goods without brand names but when the operation in the complex resumes, we’ll be able to produce products under a co-brand.” The brand name will be put up for a public contest.

Kim worked with companies when he served as a head of corporate support of the Kaesong Industrial Complex Management Committee between 2008 and 2011 and saw the complex stop following the suspension of the tourism program to Mt. Kumgang, the sinking of the naval corvette Cheonan, and a May 24 measure by the South Korean government, which banned South Korean companies from investing in the complex. He served as an officer in charge of the peace regime on the Korean Peninsula at the Secretariat of the National Security Council from 2003 through 2005. He is more interested than anyone else in the inter-Korean relationship. “When I call business owners of companies in the complex, they are hospitalized because of excessive stress,” he said. “Hopefully, the inter-Korean working-level meeting could come to fruition next Monday.”

Kim added, “As 30 percent of clothes sold in South Korea are made in Kaesong, the complex is competitive both in quality and price. I’ll do my best to help consumers and companies in the complex can benefit by launching a co-brand in October under the slogan of ‘the best quality and a beautiful price.`” The price tag will be around 60 percent of the market price.