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South Koreans hope to return to Kaesong factories

April 19, 2013 • World News


Visitors look at products made at Kaesong industrial complex in North Korea displayed at a showroom at the unification observation post near the border village of Panmunjom, that has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, north of Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, April 18, 2013. The South Korean entrepreneurs who invested up to 10 years and millions of dollars in the Kaesong industrial complex, a symbol of economic collaboration between the rival Koreas that is now shuttered by the North, have little more than hope to cling to as assembly lines sit idle day after day. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The South Korean entrepreneurs who invested up to 10 years and millions of dollars in the Kaesong industrial complex, a symbol of economic collaboration between the Koreas that is now shuttered by the North, have little more than hope to cling to as assembly lines sit idle day after day.

They say they want to go back to work. The sooner the better. They say they cannot abandon their investments in factories, or the cheap North Korean labor that helped them put aside misgivings about doing business with the South’s unpredictable neighbor. Some were just getting over their beginners’ mistakes and were starting to see the fruits of their work.

But North Korea has been unrelenting in its decision to bar South Koreans from entering the factory city just inside its border, and withdraw the 53,000 North Korean workers who manned assembly lines. As the lockout enters a third week, customers of the South Korean companies are growing impatient and losses are mounting. Some businesses are quietly mulling giving up on Kaesong altogether.

“We have built the Kaesong industrial complex by the sweat of our brows, believing in guarantees that we would be able to work freely,” said Han Jae-kwon, chief of the association of South Korean factories in Kaesong. “We find the reality tragic and sad that we are unable to travel to our own factories.”

The Kaesong complex has been nearly deserted since early April, when Pyongyang pulled the plug on its last significant economic link with the Login to read more

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