This may not be good news for the Korean chaebols profiting from the near slave labor at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, but this is good news for those of us who advocate for the human rights of North Koreans:
North Korea on Wednesday threatened to close the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex, peeved at South Korea’s decision to sanction the North over last year’s rocket launch. In a statement, the North’s National Economic Cooperation Committee pledged to “a resolute response, including turning the industrial complex back into a military zone.”
The former military district was turned into an industrial zone in 2002, and the joint industrial park opened in 2004. Some 124 South Korean companies make things like garments and shoes there with cheap North Korean labor.
Pyongyang is upset by Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik’s remarks at the National Assembly on Monday that Seoul will put into effect a UN Security Council resolution of Jan. 23 and beef up checks of materials bound for Kaesong.
But a ministry official said, “If the industrial complex is closed, it’s the North that will take the blow.” The complex is one of the few remaining sources of hard currency for the cash-strapped North, which pockets most of the workers’ wages.
Since the complex opened in March 2004, the regime has repeatedly taken it hostage when inter-Korean relations became strained. [Chosun Ilbo]
The North Koreans have not just taken the Kaesong Complex figuratively hostage, they have actually attempted a trial run of taking a South Korean citizen hostage at the facility.
Here are a few facts about the Kaeseong Industrial Complex for those that don’t know much about it. The North Korean workers at Kaeseong are reportedly forced to work shifts of up to 24 hours, plus the proceeds from the complex are nearly all used to fund the Kim Jong-un regime that continues to threaten the United States. Despite all this South Korea has tried in the past to get the US to consider the products made at Kaesong to be South Korean made in an attempt to export them to the US. It would be political suicide for the US President or any other politician in the US to agree to anything coming out of Kaesong as South Korean made.
The bottom line is that when President Park takes office she should welcome the closing of the Kaesong Industrial Complex which will not only stop South Korean companies from profiting from near-slave labor, but would stop one more cash cow for the Kim regime.