Kaesong resident surprises South Korean visitorsHong Seol-gyeong, 22, is an administrative worker for Kaesong Industrial Park’s management office. On Sept. 26, Ms. Hong delivered a briefing about the complex to a group of South Korean visitors. The Kaesong native’s thorough presentation surprised the 230 businessmen who were there to commemorate the completion of a construction materials factory owned by a North-South Korean joint venture, Arirang Taerim Seokjae.
The briefing notes on the screen read, “Between South-North Korean authorities...,” but Ms. Hong read, “North-South Korean.” She explained the recruiting procedures at the industrial park using North Korean terms that were a little vague but spoke in a straightforward manner, as if she had memorized the briefing, while skillfully underlining the main points with a laser pointer.
As Ms. Hong finished her briefing, she said, “With the June 15 joint declaration as our motto, we intend to uphold Kaesong Industrial Park as a place to promote peace.”
Ms. Hong joined the park’s management office after she graduated from a teachers’ college in Pyongyang. She has appeared with actress Son Ye-jin in a South Korean TV commercial, for the industrial park.
When asked about the commercial, Ms. Hong said with a smile, “I’m prettier than Son Ye-jin, right? There is a saying from the old days that women from the north are beautiful and men from the south are handsome.”
Wearing a white traditional jacket, with a Kim Il Sung pin, and a black skirt, Ms. Hong posed with a smile when the visitors asked to have a picture taken with her. This was unlike most North Korean workers, who usually shy away from South Korean visitors.
In a clear voice tinged with a Hwanghae provincial accent, Ms. Hong said she had displayed a talent for the cello when she was young. As a gifted child, she was sent to Pyongyang and completed her music studies there. She started working at the industrial park in June 2005.
“If I wasn’t stationed here, I would have been working as a music teacher by now,” she said. Ms. Hong said she earns 55,000 won ($57) per month, which is similar to the wage of a factory worker at the complex.
Hong Heung-ju, a director of the park management office, praised Ms. Hong, saying, “She is excellent at general administrative work as well as difficult jobs like briefings. She is very talented.”
by Lee Young-jong