Rainy Season Brings Test for Kaesong Complex

      May 20, 2013 13:01

      It has been 40 days since North Korea ordered all South Korean workers out of the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex and 15 days since the last South Korean citizens left the industrial park. Seoul has not yet shut off power and water supplies, so it is still possible to resume operations there, but experts say the chance will be lost once the rainy season starts.

      "The precision machinery there needs to be oiled continuously since it's extremely vulnerable to rust," said Cho Bong-hyun of the IBK Economic Research Institute. "A lot of it is probably in an irreparable state already and all will become useless if it’s left idling past the rainy season."

      The rainy season usually arrives in mid- to late June and lasts for about a month.

      Most of the machinery can be salvaged by replacing parts if it is put back into operation before the end of June, according to experts. But once the rainy season starts, the companies would have to buy entirely new production machinery, which means very few, if any, would be willing to return to the Kaesong complex.

      Seoul requested talks with Pyongyang last week to ensure the closure does not drag on beyond the end of June, but the North declined.

      Instead, North Korea on Saturday faxed messages to a handful of South Korean businesses that operate in the inter-Korean industrial park. In the message, which followed a similar one sent Thursday, North Korea accused South Korea of rejecting an offer to evacuate all machinery and raw materials on May 3, when the last of the South's workers left.

      North Korea said the offer of talks was "a ploy."

      The massage has upset the South Korean businesses, which in an emergency press conference on Friday accused the government here of failing to inform them of Pyongyang’s offer. They demanded it make public all messages it exchanged with North Korea during the impasse.

      But a government official urged them not to fall into North Korea's trap. "North Korea's aim is to rattle the nerves of the business owners and pressure the [South Korean] government to shift its policy," the official said. "This is a typical North Korean tactic to foment dissent. It's a pity that the businesses distrust their own government and fall victim to North Korea's claims."

      • Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com
      Previous Next
      All Headlines Back to Top