Foreign Businesses Nose Around Kaesong Complex

      September 27, 2013 09:26

      Foreign businesses have started taking an interest in the Kaesong Industrial Complex which reopened last week, but it remains to be seen whether they will develop enough trust in North Korea's unpredictable ways to park their money and enterprises there.

      Among potential investors are Korean-American clothing firms in Los Angeles, Radio Free Asia reported Thursday.

      Lee Yoon-se of the Korean Apparel Manufacturers Association in Los Angeles told RFA that members of his group are looking at opening factories in the industrial park.

      Korean-American businesses mostly look to Vietnam, China or Cambodia for cheap labor. The Kaesong complex has a geographical advantage, but the drawback is U.S. sanctions against North Korea. But Lee said the companies feel that hurdle could be overcome.

      Other Korean-American clothing firms operating in China and Vietnam are also taking interest in the Kaesong complex, RFA said.

      Michael Ertl (right) of German firm Me & Friends tours a shoe factory run by Samduk Tongsang in Kaesong on Thurday. /Courtesy of Samduk Tongsang

      Meanwhile, Michael Ertl of German firm Me & Friends visited the industrial park with the head of shoemaker Samduk Tongsang, which operates a factory there.

      They toured the complex and met with Hong Yang-ho, who heads the committee managing the complex. Samduk agreed to a joint investment deal with the German firm, a spokesman said.

      "We resumed transactions with our overseas partners after the complex reopened. One foreign firm after another has been asking about the complex," said Han Jae-kwon, chairman of the South Korean business association in the complex. "But we've noticed some hesitation because the North unilaterally postponed the reunions of families" separated by the Korean War.

      Officials from both Koreas are expected to give a presentation to potential foreign investors at the complex on Oct. 31.

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