Gov’t reduces electricity to Kaesong

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Gov’t reduces electricity to Kaesong

South Korea started sending less electricity across the border since the shutdown of the Kaesong Industrial Complex by Pyongyang.

South’s Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said at a parliamentary hearing with lawmakers yesterday that the government has shaved the amount of electricity sent to the industrial zone by 80 percent.

“We have reduced [the electricity supply] since April 27,” Ryoo said. “It has been about a month since operations of the complex were disrupted. So we cut it down because it doesn’t need much electricity.”

Ryoo said the complex is currently receiving a level of about 20,000 kilowatts at any time. Previously, the government supplied 100,000 kilowatts.

The electricity is also used to run a water supply system for the zone that includes a purification facility.

Some sources say the electricity and water are also used outside the industrial zone by ordinary citizens in Kaesong. Pyongyang reportedly asked Seoul not to cut off the electricity and water.

Ryoo admitted that the water is partly provided for North Korean citizens, but not the electricity.

“I guess that amount of electricity [20,000 kilowatts] will not be a problem to provide water to citizens in Kaesong,” he said. “We don’t know how many people benefit from the water, but I guess there are plenty.

“But the electricity was not sent to Kaesong city [for ordinary people],” the minister added.

South Korean government also started a survey of the 123 owners of businesses at the Kaesong Industrial Complex to figure out the total amount of their losses due to the halted operation.

“We have started an investigation into the losses of the companies based in the Kaesong complex since May 1,” Kim Hyung-suk, spokesman of the ministry told reporters yesterday. “If things go smoothly, we anticipate it will be wrapped up within this week.”

Kim said the state-run Export-Import Bank of Korea will provide special loans to the companies through the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund, a special state budget that has accumulated annually for inter-Korean businesses.

The fund is now about 1 trillion won ($914 million) in total.

In regards to the unpaid April salaries for the 53,000 North Korean workers, Kim said, “We agreed with North Korea to have additional negotiations over them.”


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

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