Kaesong businessmen to visit now-shuttered factory park in N. Korea | Inquirer Business

Kaesong businessmen to visit now-shuttered factory park in N. Korea

/ 05:15 PM October 25, 2018

SEOUL — South Korean business people who ran factories in the Kaesong Industrial Complex are pushing to visit the now-suspended industrial park in the North Korean border town next week at the earliest, a government official said Wednesday.

The Seoul government is working to earn visitation rights for South Korean businessmen who operated factories at the now-shuttered industrial park in North Korea, an official at the Ministry of Unification said Wednesday, and the trip could come as early as next week.

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The government is negotiating with the North on the businessmen’s visit to the border town of Kaesong to inspect their properties, Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told a press briefing.

If the trip to North Korea does take place, it will be the first time for the businessmen to set foot in the complex since February 2016. They have officially requested from the Seoul government for visitation rights six times since the previous administration shut down the park, but was turned down each time.

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Some of the businessmen, including Shin Han-yong, who heads the group of South Korean businesses that formerly operated at the park, visited Kaesong last month to participate in the opening ceremony for the two Koreas’ joint liaison office. They were not able to enter the complex and were allowed to observe it only from afar, however.

Critics worry that the move could be interpreted as Seoul’s disregard for international sanctions layered against the North, as the complex was shuttered on suspicions of being a source of hard currency for Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Addressing the concerns, Cheong Wa Dae denied the connection between the visit and a revival of the complex, saying that without sanctions relief, there would be no resumption of operations. The Ministry of Unification stressed that the purpose of the visit is for the inspection of properties only.

Normalization of inter-Korean economic projects, including the Kaesong industrial park and suspended cross-border tours to the North’s eastern slopes of Kumgangsan, was a clause in the agreement reached between the two leaders of the Koreas in Pyongyang last month.

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TAGS: Asia, Business, Kaesong, North Korea, South Korea
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