Kaesong investors are positive, and hopeful

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Kaesong investors are positive, and hopeful

Almost all companies that once operated in the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea said they would return to the complex, which was shut down in 2016 during a rocky period in inter-Korean relations.

According to a survey of 108 companies with a presence in the industrial complex, more than 98 percent said they would return. The survey was conducted by the Korea Federation of SMEs and released Tuesday.

In the same survey last year, 26.7 percent said they would return without conditions. This year, 56.5 percent indicated they would return without conditions.

More than 73 percent expect that the complex, which utilizes capital from the South and labor from the North, will likely reopen before the end of the current administration.

South Korea closed the complex, which is located just 54 kilometers (33.6 miles) north of Seoul, in February 2016 in response to a ballistic missile test conducted by the North. The South Korean government has since provided 550 billion won ($484 million) in support funds for the businesses that operated in the complex to compensate them for losses.

Almost 77 percent said that business has slowed since the closure of the complex, while 9.3 percent said their business has come to a halt.Nearly a quarter of the companies said that a decrease in orders since the closure was the most significant issue.

“The business situation for Kaesong Industrial Complex companies is difficult, just as last year, but there are high expectations for the complex to reopen,” said Lee Chang-hee, an official at the Korea Federation of SMEs.

“Kaesong Industrial Complex companies want realistic progress for the resumption rather than additional government support measures.”

Amid easing relations with North Korea under the current administration, President Moon Jae-in has repeatedly vowed to work to reopen the complex, although that requires lifting of international sanctions against Pyongyang.

BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]
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