Kaesong firms undecided on whether to seek visit to N. Korea this month

SEOUL-- The association of South Korean firms that operated factories at the now-shuttered joint industrial park in North Korea are undecided on whether to apply for a visit to the reclusive country this month, a source said Friday.

Last month, the group said it wanted to visit the Kaesong complex which was shut down in February 2016 amid rising tensions in the Korean Peninsula.

The previous Park Geun-hye administration ordered a total of 124 South Korean companies operating at the Kaesong Industrial Complex to return home, in retaliation for the North's continued provocations including a fourth nuclear test. The inter-Korean industrial complex had been regarded as the icon of inter-Korean reconciliation.

"We need to take into account the upcoming summit between South Korea and the United States late this month, as well as the North's reaction to it. So it is unclear if we will submit the application for a visit this month," the official working for the association said, asking not to be named.

President Moon Jae-in and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump will hold their first face-to-face talks since they both took office in Washington on June 29-30.

"There have been different signals coming from the government and political circles regarding the resumption of operations at the complex," the official said. "We have to first wait and see what kind of discussion takes place in regards to North Korea during the summit."

Earlier this month, North Korea rejected South Korean civic and religious groups' offer to resume exchanges, including visits and aid supplies, in protest of Seoul's support of the U.N.'s comprehensive sanctions against Pyongyang.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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