16 September 2013, 05:05

North Korea's Kaesong industrial complex reopening after 5-month closure

северная корея южная корея кндр Кэсонский промышленный комплекс Кэсонский индустриальный комплекс

The industrial zone jointly operated by North and South Korea reopened Monday following its closure after a rise in tensions on the Korean Peninsula, a media report said.

South Korea's Unification Ministry said that more than half of the 123 companies at the Kaesong industrial area said they planned to begin trial operations, the Yonhap News agency reported.

Some 820 South Korean managers and workers would travel to Kaesong to oversee the restarting of operations there on Monday with around 400 staying overnight, the ministry said.

The deal to reopen the industrial zone included provisions to ease South Korean access to the site, 10 kilometres north of the border between the two countries. The Koreas agreed Tuesday to reopen the industrial zone.

Talks were continuing on the running of Kaesong including on the issue of the rights of South Koreans working there as well as the use of the internet and mobile phones by South Koreans working at Kaesong, the report said.

"I hope we can work together well again, just like before," said the 50-year-old manager of a Seoul textile company who declined to be named.

Months of heightened military tensions, with Pyongyang issuing daily apocalyptic threats of nuclear strikes, saw North Korea withdraw its 53,000-strong workforce from the joint industrial zone.

As part of the deal, the North accepted the South's demand that efforts be made to encourage foreign investment in Kaesong.

Seoul believes having vested interests outside the Korean peninsula involved in Kaesong will make it harder for Pyongyang to shut down the complex the next time North-South relations go into freefall.

"Honestly, I still feel a bit nervous because you never know whether the North will change its mind in the future," the textile company manager told AFP.

"Who knows if a crisis like this will happen again?" he told AFP.

Born out of the "sunshine" reconciliation policy initiated in the late 1990s by then-South Korean president Kim Dae-Jung, Kaesong was established in 2004 as a rare symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.

It provided an important hard currency source for the impoverished North through taxes, other revenues, and its cut of workers' wages.

It had appeared immune to previous downward spirals in North-South relations, but finally fell victim to the months of tensions that followed the North's nuclear test in February.

In an effort to prevent any future closures, the North and South have created a joint committee to oversee Kaesong and deal with any problems related to its operations.

Voice of Russia, dpa, AFP

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