S. Korean business people to visit now-suspended factory park in N. Korea: official
SEOUL, Oct. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korean business people who ran factories in the Kaesong Industrial Complex are pushing to visit the now-suspended industrial park in the North Korean border town next week at the earliest, a government official said Wednesday.
Baek Tae-hyun, a spokesman of the Ministry of Unification, said that the Seoul government is discussing with North Korea details of the South Korean business owners' visit to Kaesong.
"The business owners need to visit the Kaesong Industrial Complex to protect their property rights and inspect their assets. Discussions with the North are still underway, and the schedule has yet to be fixed," Baek said in a media briefing.
In this regard, ministry officials said about 150 business people are expected to make single-day trips to Kaesong in small groups for three days starting Oct. 31.
Baek then stressed that the business owners' planned visit to Kaesong is only aimed at protecting their property rights and has nothing to do with the resumption of the industrial park.
He explained that the Kaesong visit has been pushed in accordance with an inter-Korean summit agreement signed in Pyongyang last month.
Minister of Unification Cho Myoung-gyon also told the National Assembly early this month that the government was discussing the South Korean business people's visit to Kaesong separately from the reopening of the North's industrial park.
The government of former President Park Geun-hye abruptly announced the closure of the Kaesong park on Feb. 10, 2016, in retaliation for the North's fourth nuclear weapons test and long-range missile launch.
Since then, the South Korean owners of Kaesong factories have never set foot in the North Korean industrial complex, though they have applied for a visit to the North's border town six times.
President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed in their September summit to normalize the Kaesong Industrial Park and South Koreans' tour of the North's Mount Kumgang as soon as conditions are met.
Meanwhile, the Committee for Emergency Measures for Kaesong Industrial Complex has begun relevant preparations for the Kaesong visit.
A committee official said the number of Kaesong visitors is expected to reach 150 people, including representatives of 123 firms that ran factories in Kaesong and 30 support facilities, such as convenience stores and restaurants.
The official said the visitors will likely be divided into six teams, each of which will be around 26 people, and one each will go to the Kaesong park in the morning and the afternoon for three days.
Source: Yonhap News Agency