Kaesong Industrial Complex Reopens

    19 September, 2013


    From VOA Special English, this is the Economics Report.

    North and South Korea reopened their joint factory zone this week. Lines of trucks and cars crossed South Korea's northern border Monday on the way to Kaesong, North Korea.

    About 800 South Korean workers and their supervisors entered the jointly operated Kaesong Industrial Complex. They brought materials and parts to restart production for the first time in months. South Korean managers expressed happiness at returning to work.

    Kaesong Industrial Complex Reopens
    Kim Kiwoong, head of South Korea's delegation, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Park Chol Su before their meeting

    Ji Yoon-tae is deputy chief of a South Korean company in Kaesong. He says it has been very hard while the factories were closed. From now on, he says, he hopes everything works out well, and the factory zone comes back to life.

    In April, North Korea removed about 53,000 workers from the joint manufactoring effort. Their withdrawl resulted from military tensions with South Korea and the United States.

    South Korean companies say they lost about $1 billion from the suspension of factories. The industrial area produces cloths, watches, and parts for electronic products.

    After months of negotiations, the two Koreas last week reached a deal to reopen the area. They agreed to set up a joint committee to settle future problems.

    Officials from the two sides have been holding weekly meetings to discuss other details. The reopening is seen as the most important sign of warming relations between North and South Korea since the North carried out missile and nuclear tests.

    Choi Kyong-lim is South Korea's Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy. He told reporters in Seoul that the government hopes many Chinese companies will invest in Kaesong.

    He says it is important for Chinese companies to use North Korean labor at Kaesong where pay is low but productivity is high. China is North Korea's closest ally. It also is believed to have some limited influence over the government in Pyongyang.

    Cho Bong-hyun is with the Economic Research Center of the Industrial Bank of Korea. He says Kaesong offers better guarantees than other investments in North Korea. He says investment in other cities has more risk.

    And that's the Economics Report from VOA Learning English. For more Learning English programs, lessons and videos, go to our website 51voa.com. And follow us on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I'm Mario Ritter.