Cooperation in Kaesong uncertain
However, more than 100 firms operating there do not have immediate plans for the upcoming days. In order to make a decision whether they will run their plants as usual, South Korean companies are “keenly watching” for responses from both Seoul and Pyongyang.
Businesspeople in Kaesong heard the news yesterday morning.
“We watched the satellite TV news, and North Korean employees here seemed to not know the news at all,” a South Korean official at the Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee under the Ministry of Unification told the JoongAng Ilbo.
A total of 123 South Korean businesses are operating in Kaesong, and as many as 880 South Koreans are there for business. About 40 officials have been sent by the committee to support businesses from the South.
An official from a business in Kaesong said, “short-term negative impacts are unavoidable, because the Kaesong Industrial Complex is directly affected by internal uncertainties within the North’s regime.”
Economic cooperation between the two Koreas began on July 7, 1988. The following year Chung Joo-young, the late honorary chairman of Hyundai Group, made his first visit to the North and signed an agreement with then-leader Kim Il Sung to co-develop Mount Kumgang.
“We will closely monitor the unpredictable situation in the North,” the company said. Since the Mount Kumgang tourism business has been shut down for the past three years and no new investment is being made in the Kaesong industrial complex, Hyundai Asan is not expected to take an immediate hit from the latest news.
The Mount Kumgang tourism business, the biggest part of Hyundai Asan’s business in the North, was suspended in 2008 when a South Korean tourist was shot by a North Korean soldier. And the last investment made in Kaesong was May 2010.
Hyun Jeong-eun, current chairwoman of Hyundai Group is the only businessperson who has visited the North during the Lee Myung-bak administration. After the news was released, Hyun has been asked whether she will visit the North or not to offer condolences for the late Kim.
By Song Su-hyun [email@example.com]
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