[EDITORIALS]Lefkowitz and Kaesong

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[EDITORIALS]Lefkowitz and Kaesong

Jay Lefkowitz, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights, will visit the Kaesong Industrial Complex. Mr. Lefkowitz has vigorously criticized the personnel system of the North Korean industrial park.
His proposed visit, scheduled in July, will attract a great deal of attention to see what kind of evaluation he will make of the complex after seeing it.
It seems unusual for Pyongyang to allow the special envoy, who is one of the leading anti-North Korea U.S. officials, to visit the industrial park, particularly in the middle of the furor over Pyongyang’s preparations to launch a missile.
Perhaps Pyongyang felt desperate, believing that Washington’s understanding and cooperation were necessary to run the Kaesong complex properly.
So North Korea should do its best to change Mr. Lefkowitz’s negative views about the industrial area. It needs to show its determination to set up economic reforms and open its doors, perhaps by adopting a plan to use the Kaesong complex model in other parts of the country.
Mr. Lefkowitz’s criticism of the Kaesong industrial park has been creating conflicts between Seoul and Washington.
The most crucial issue has been whether or not North Korean workers are actually paid their wages.
South Korea’s companies that have factories in Kaesong industrial complex hand over the money for workers’ wages to the North Korean authorities. The North Korean authorities then are responsible for paying their workers.
The South Korean government claims that there is no possibility that the money is diverted because our companies confirm how much money each worker gets paid every month.
Washington thinks, however, that as long as the workers are to receive money from the North Korean authorities and not directly, there is always a chance that all or part of the money goes to the government.
That is the main bone of contention, but if Seoul and Washington negotiate seriously on the issue, they probably can find a solution.
Direct payments to workers is codified in North Korea’s laws. Seoul and Pyongyang have also agreed to deliver payments directly to workers as soon as Pyongyang’s foreign exchange shortage is ended.
Mr. Lefkowitz’s visit could serve as a turning point to resolve many differences in opinions and views, including those on the issue of distribution of wages.

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