More North workers at Kaesong

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More North workers at Kaesong

Despite tension over the sinking of a South Korean warship, the number of North Korean workers at the two countries’ joint industrial complex has reached the highest point since it opened in 2004, a government report said yesterday.

The number stood at 44,000 as of June, 2,000 more than in January, the Unification Ministry said in a parliamentary report, adding that 121 South Korean firms are operating in the communist country’s border town of Kaesong near the west coast.

The report suggests the factory park, considered the last remaining major symbol of reconciliation, is growing despite South Korean measures aimed at punishing the North for the Cheonan sinkig in March. Forty-six sailors died in the attack.

North Korea denies that it played any role in the tragedy, but a multinational investigation pinpointed Pyongyang as the aggressor. Seoul banned cross-border trade late last month, and scaled down the number of South Koreans permitted to stay each day in Kaesong.

Last week, South Korean firms operating in Kaesong said they were seeking rescue funds from the government because their businesses had deteriorated amid cross-border tensions.

The complex opened in 2004 after the two sides’ leaders sides agreed on the venture in a summit in 2000.

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