May 24, 2019 13:16
North Korea is secretly using the equipment of South Korean manufacturers from the shuttered Kaesong Industrial Complex to make clothes, Radio Free Asia on Wednesday quoted sources as saying.
Some of the South Korean manufacturers are poised to go to the North Korean border town and check on their equipment in the joint industrial park, which was closed down in 2016.
But apparently North Korean factories as far afield as Tonglim in North Pyongan Province have stolen equipment and are making clothing with it for export.
The clothes are smuggled to China and then exported to Japan and Europe, a North Korean trader in China told RFA. A source in North Pyongan said that the Workers Party is also flogging finished clothing and electronics that South Korean manufacturers left behind to Chinese customers.
That means North Korean officials could find themselves with egg on their face if the South Korean manufacturers arrive to find that their equipment has gone.
The South Korean government approved the trip already but is waiting for an answer from North Korea, which in light of the latest report seems unlikely to be positive. Seoul is continuing behind-the-scenes talks with the North.
The Unification Ministry here downplayed the report. "Our staff are staying at the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong around the clock," a ministry official told reporters. "Nothing about the report has been confirmed."
In 2017, North Korea also tried to carry on manufacturing products at the complex after the South Korean owners had cleared out. When the attempt became public, the North said it had every right to do anything it wanted there.
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