February 11, 2016 10:00
South Korean companies with factories in the Kaesong Industrial Complex have urged the government to reconsider a plan to shut the business park. Some of the 120 companies say they will go bankrupt if their operations are shut down.
The complex employs 54,763 North Koreans and some 3,000 South Koreans who are either based there or commute. Businesses produce US$515.5 million worth of products annually.
When operations were suspended in 2013, South Korean businesses suffered around W700 billion in losses, according to Unification Ministry estimates (US$1=W1,198). Industry watchers say the amount of damage this time could reach W1 trillion if businesses are unable to retrieve their equipment, raw materials and finished products.
Chung Ki-sup, who heads a committee of South Korean companies at the complex, on Wednesday called on the government to reconsider its decision. After a meeting with Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo, Chung said the government's "sudden notification" of its decision to shut down the complex is "difficult" for the businesses to accept.
He called on the government to first find ways of minimizing losses and accused it of putting the burden on private businesses for the sake of politics.
"When the two Koreas agreed to restart the complex in 2013, they told us operations would continue 'unaffected by any political circumstance,'" Hong said. "We can't understand this sudden measure."
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