October 25, 2018 09:40
Plans are underway for South Korean business owners to visit the North Korean border town of Kaesong next week to inspect their factories in the shuttered industrial park there.
Seoul is talking with Pyongyang to allow businesspeople who have invested in the Kaesong Industrial Complex to inspect their assets there, Unification Ministry spokesman Baek Tae-hyun told reporters Wednesday. They will go in several groups for a day each from Oct. 31.
The move is widely viewed as a precursor to reopening the industrial park, which was closed in February 2016 after a North Korean nuclear test. Seoul already resumed power and water supplies there when it opened a cross-border liaison office last month.
But Baek denied that the reopening is imminent and insisted the visit "has nothing to do with the reopening of the industrial park."
Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom also said it will be impossible to reopen the complex until international sanctions are eased.
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told lawmakers in a parliamentary audit on Oct. 11 that Seoul was discussing the visit but has no immediate plans to reopen the complex.
Besides 123 mostly light-industry companies that had production facilities in the industrial park, 30 service businesses like convenience stores and restaurants have also applied to the ministry to come along.
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