arirang news

Shuttered Kaesong complex unlikely to reopen anytime soon Updated: 2017-02-10 18:49:38 KST

"It was this day last year on February 10th when the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean cooperation -- the Kaesong Industrial Complex -- stopped operations. Twelve months on, hope has dimmed that it'll ever be up and running again. Where there were once trucks and people crossing the border for business, all that can be heard now is muffled loudspeaker broadcasts coming from the North."

The shutdown announcement was a shock to the South Korean companies operating in the complex, as they'd been given no prior notice.
They rushed to extract manufactured goods and raw materials, but stockpiles of unshipped merchandise had to be abandoned.

Hyupjin Covering is one of the 123 companies forced to pull out of the complex last year.
Since then, owner Lee Sang-hyup has managed to set up a new factory in the South that makes rubber thread for socks.

"When Kaesong was shut down, half of my facilities were in the South. That's why I was able to re-start my business, but if all of my facilities had been up North, I wouldn't have managed to start working again."

The majority of South Korean factory owners haven't been so lucky, and the issue of compensation has sparked a row with the government.
Although the South Korean government completed payment of a pledged 435 million U.S. dollars in support this month, the companies say the shutdown caused them a combined one-point three billion dollars in losses.

Up North, it would be practically impossible for Pyongyang to get the complex running on its own, as Seoul shut off the electricity and water, but according to one expert

"North Korea could be selling completed goods from Kaesong to supplement unpaid employee wages, as the complex was shut down on short notice."

And this week, Seoul said there are signs North Korea is trying to sell electric rice cookers in China.

It's apparent that the park's closure has cost the two Koreas, both financially and diplomatically.
But South Korea has said it has no plans to re-open the complex unless the North moves to dismantle its nuclear weapons program and North Korea has vowed to continue its nuclear development, so it looks like the park will remain closed for now.
Connie Kim, Arirang News.
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