S. Korea refuses DP’s Chung passage to Kaesong

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S. Korea refuses DP’s Chung passage to Kaesong

The Ministry of Unification said yesterday that it had denied permission for Chung Dong-young of the main opposition Democratic Party to go to North Korea.

A ministry official said that it would be “difficult” to approve Chung’s request and that the reason for the denial would be explained to him in the days to come.

Chung had personally called Unification Minister Hyun In-taek last week requesting approval for entrance into the Kaesong Industrial Complex to observe the situation there and also to develop safety measures.

His request came days after the Unification Ministry decided to lift the ban on travel to the North as part of safety measures for South Korean citizens after the Yeonpyeong Island attack.

The ministry official said visits to the industrial complex in the North are allowed only when the government deems them necessary for companies operating there.

“The same policy has been upheld since May and a request for entrance into the complex was denied to members of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee in July,” the official said. The strict policies regarding the Kaesong Industrial Complex were part of a punitive package toward the North announced by President Lee Myung-bak in May in response to the Cheonan sinking two months prior.

Passage into Kaesong became even more difficult after the North’s attack on Yeonpyeong in late November when the government allowed a minimal number of South Koreans to enter the complex with basic goods.

Admittance into the complex was entirely banned for a day last Monday because of the live-fire drill on Yeonpyeong, which was conducted in response to the North’s shelling. The ban was lifted after the firing drill ended without a physical response from the North.

By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]
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