SEOUL– Small and medium-sized businesses in South Korea called Sunday for reopening an inter-Korean industrial complex in North Korea’s border town of Kaesong on the third anniversary of the factory park’s shutdown.
The Korea Federation of SMEs made the appeal, stressing that legally binding measures, such as parliamentary ratification, are necessary to guarantee the stable operation of the complex. It also urged the government to come up with detailed compensation plans in case of suspension.
“It is necessary to implement measures for the normalization and the revitalization at the same time so as to have it reborn as the symbol of the cross-border exchanges,” said federation official Kim Kyung-han. “After gathering more opinions, we will officially propose these suggestions to relevant ministries.”
The federation also proposed a proactive push for the opening of the Kaesong park to the global market while expanding infrastructure to encourage more South Koreans to work there and to maximize North Korea’s natural resources in running the complex.
Also desirable is the creation of a new type of inter-Korean economic cooperation fund reserved for small and medium-sized companies to encourage more to cross the inter-Korean border for business opportunities, according to the federation.
Opened in 2004, the Kaesong complex was hailed as a successful cross-border economic cooperation project as it combined South Korea’s capital with North Korea’s cheap labor. But it ceased operations in February 2016, after the Seoul government announced its shutdown in retaliation for Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile provocations.
More than 120 South Korean firms had operated plants in the Kaesong complex, though they left there on short notice and have failed to visit there in accordance with the state decision.
But hopes have been running high over its resumption in recent months amid amicable relations between the Koreas. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also said in his New Year’s Day speech that he is willing to resume major inter-Korean projects, including the industrial park, without any preconditions.
Source: Yonhap News Agency