Kaesong owners ready to go back

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Kaesong owners ready to go back

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Han Jae-kwon, head of the emergency committee for the Kaesong Industrial Complex, second from left, and other committee members applaud before a meeting at their office in Yeouido, western Seoul, yesterday. By Kim Kyung-bin

After South and North Korea agreed on Wednesday to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex, businessmen with factories there urged the government to take quick supportive measures to get business going again.

The Emergency Measures Committee for Normalizing the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which represents 123 companies operating there met yesterday and came up with three proposals to help get their businesses operating again.

“The normalization of Kaesong operations hasn’t begun yet,” said Yoo Chang-geun, the committee spokesman. “Companies have spent more than four months coping with the shutdown and we need time to recover.”

The committee asked the government to allow its own preparation team to enter and stay in the complex as an advance party. According to the committee, facility inspections will take from 10 to 30 days. It added that full normalization of operations will take at least three months, although some factories will get back to business faster than others.

It also asked the government to support companies with a special fund to normalize business. The government in May decided to provide 300 billion won ($268 million) to companies in Kaesong, but according to the committee only about 60 billion won was used.

The committee said the support funds haven’t been used since the government and the committee conducted inspections at the end of June. According to the committee, 1.05 trillion won worth of damages have been incurred due to the shutdown in early April.

The committee also asked that its representatives be allowed on the South-North joint committee the two Koreas are set to establish following the five-clause, two-page agreement that was announced Wednesday.

As for compensation received by some companies from inter-Korean business and cooperation insurance, the committee said it will discuss when the money should be returned by those companies.

Under the law, when the Kaesong business owners receive compensation for a shutdown, the government takes ownership of their assets. They can get them back when they return the compensation. According to the Ministry of Unification, 109 companies have been approved for compensation and 23.02 billion won in insurance money has been paid to six.
Meanwhile, Hyundai Group also hopes to resume its businesses in North Korea.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON AND KIM YOUNG-MIN [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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