Pyongyang denies visit to Kaesong

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Pyongyang denies visit to Kaesong


Pyongyang dismissed a request from South Korean businessmen to visit the Kaesong Industrial Complex, putting the factories in the inter-Korean business district at risk of closure.

Ten South Korean businessmen who own factories in the cross-border industrial zone in the city of Kaesong, North Korea, asked Pyongyang to allow them to visit the complex so that they could continue to run their factories there.

“North Korea notified us this morning that they can’t agree to the request of the 10 owners of the companies based in the Kaesong Industrial Complex,” Kim Hyung-suk, spokesman for the Ministry of Unification, said.

According to South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean business, about 200 South Korean workers still remain in the complex to maintain the operation of factories, despite the North’s April 3 entry ban on further cargo or individuals entering the zone.

North Korea pulled out all of its workers, about 50,000, from the inter-Korean complex on April 9 in the midst of frosty relations with the South.

Although Pyongyang didn’t order the remaining Southern workers to get out, it is becoming more and more difficult for them to stay in the complex without any materials or food supplies.

“The reason the owners requested the visit was to confirm the ongoing situation in their factories in the complex and to show how dire the situation is to North Korean authorities,” Kim said. “They also tried to supply some food, medicine and daily necessities [to their workers] during the visit.”

Since the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on the reclusive regime to punish its latest nuclear device and missile tests, Pyongyang has ratcheted up its scathing language against Seoul and Washington on an almost daily basis, even threatening a military attack.

Seoul and Washington have both asked for dialogue with Pyongyang, which the regime has rejected, instead demanding the South apologize for insulting the “dignity” of the regime.

Observers in the South Korean government say if the factories remain idle for a long time, they will have to be closed.

“Although North Korea is creating difficulties for a variety of wrongful reasons, [we] are dealing with this matter by calmly overcoming them and maintaining [the complex],” Kim said.


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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