The South Korean government said Sunday it will soon pay out insurance claims to local firms damaged by the abrupt shutdown of the inter-Korean industrial complex.
Up to 330 billion won (US$267 million) will be paid to 112 firms starting this week through the insurance policy covering losses from economic cooperation projects between the two Koreas, attributable to political or security situations, according to the Unification Ministry that handles inter-Korean affairs.
A government panel on inter-Korean exchanges made the decision on the amount and schedule for the payment as part of efforts to minimize damages to the companies, it said.
The government will begin receiving insurance claims on Monday via the Export-Import Bank of Korea and start paying money on Thursday.
A total of 123 small-and medium-sized South Korean firms used to operate in the Kaesong Industrial Complex just north of the heavily-fortified border.
Of them, 79 companies have the policy. Thirty-three other South Korean companies with land contracts in the Kaesong site also bought the insurance.
It guarantees 90 percent of claims up to 7 billion won for a firm.
The ministry said it's impossible to offer any compensation to the remaining 44 companies with no insurance.
There is no way to help them other than financial support such as special loans and temporary tax breaks, said a ministry official.
Soon after the North's long-range rocket launch on Feb. 7, the South announced the suspension of the joint venture, once hailed as a key reconciliation project. Seoul said much of Pyongyang's revenue there was funneled into its nuclear and missile program.
The North reacted angrily, expelling all South Koreans from the zone and freezing all South Korean assets there.
An association of South Korean firms operating in the Kaesong complex said it would reveal the details of the losses they have suffered from the suspension of its operation.
The data to be released on Wednesday will be based on its own survey.
The Kaesong zone was closed for 134 days in the wake of the North's third nuclear test in 2013. At that time, the loss of South Korean firms was tallied at more than 1 trillion own.
Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo visited a Seoul center to help those firms in Kaesong on Sunday. He pledged the government's efforts for "swift, substantive, and tailored" support.
Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn attended a bazaar held at Lotte Department Store in Seoul to help them.
Source: News Agency