July 14, 2017 12:14
A high-ranking South Korean government official on Thursday claimed there is no evidence that money from the inter-Korean industrial complex in Kaesong was used to finance North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
South Korea shut down the Kaesong Industrial Complex in February 2016 after a series of North Korean missile tests, but there have been noises from within the new Moon Jae-in administration proposing to reopen it despite the North’s increasing belligerence.
The senior official, who spoke on the customary condition of anonymity for civil servants, told reporters, "I was curious myself and looked into the matter but was unable to confirm these suspicions."
The recently ousted Park Geun-hye administration took the view that the hard currency North Korea earned from skimming off staff wages and rents from the Kaesong complex went straight into nuclear and missile development.
Then-Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo said in in February of last year, "We've decided to completely suspend operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex to prevent our investment there from being used to develop nuclear warheads and missiles."
But the official on Thursday said, "I believe there was no evidence to back those comments," though he admitted "some undesirable effects” from "some parts of doing business with North Korea."
He explained that the payment of wages -- which instead of going to the workers went straight into the regime's coffers, often without staff seeing a penny of it -- should be "reconsidered."
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