April 30, 2018 13:26
Seventy percent of South Korean companies that used to operate in the joint-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex would return if cross-border relations improve, a survey shows.
The companies await further assurances from the South Korean government when it comes to preserving their assets in the business park.
A committee representing the companies, which are mostly mid-sized light-industry manufacturers, met on Monday to discuss the timing of their potential return to the complex and what to ask the government for.
South Korea closed down the complex in February 2016 after a North Korean nuclear test.
In the survey of 101 businesses that operated at Kaesong late last month, 27 said they would return as soon as the industrial park reopens, while 70 wanted to wait to gauge the new circumstances. Only four said they will never go back.
Among the reasons for returning, 80 cited the complex's competitiveness, most pointing to the cheap labor force.
Almost all or 98 predicted that it will reopen during President Moon Jae-in's term in office. But they were unsure of the exact time, with 39 saying some time this year, 20 next year and 40 in 2020-2022.
At the time of the closure, it was believed that most of the wages paid to around 50,000 North Korean workers were taken by the regime, possibly to fund the North's nuclear weapons and missile development.
When he was running for president, Moon pledged to reopen the complex, but the issue was not discussed during last week's inter-Korean summit as strict international sanctions remain in place.
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