Man is found dead at Kaesong park

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Man is found dead at Kaesong park

A South Korean man was found dead Saturday at a jointly-run factory park in North Korea, officials said.

The 55-year-old worker, from a South Korean company that manufactures leather products and mobile phone accessories, was found dead earlier in the day, the South’s Unification Ministry told reporters at a briefing.

Officials said the cause of death was unknown, though there were no signs of external injuries and the man did not suffer from chronic illness.

The Paju police said the cause of his death is assumed to be related to a heart disorder. The police yesterday asked the National Forensic Service to conduct an autopsy.

The Kaesong complex just north of the border is the last remaining inter-Korean rapprochement project. Its operations halted in April when Pyongyang withdrew its workers amid tensions over North Korean threats of nuclear war. It reopened in September after North Korea toned down its rhetoric and began pursuing diplomacy with South Korea.

The industrial park combines South Korean initiative, capital and technology with cheap North Korean labor. It is also a rare source of hard currency for North Korea, though the impoverished country chafes at suggestions that it needs the money Kaesong generates. North Korea is estimated to have received $80 million in workers’ salaries in 2012, an average of $127 a month per person, paid in U.S. dollars, according to the Unification Ministry.

The decade-old industrial park has survived previous periods of tension, including attacks blamed on Pyongyang that killed 50 South Koreans in 2010, and the shutdown of other big cooperation projects.

By the end of 2012, South Korean companies had produced a total $2 billion worth of goods during the past eight years.

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