SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Korea Bizwire) - South Korea said Thursday that it will come up with a set of measures to support its firms operating at a joint factory park in North Korea to help minimize any fallout from the shutdown.
On Wednesday, the Seoul government announced that it will stop the operation of the factory park in the North’s western border city of Kaesong in response to Pyongyang’s recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.
“The government will preferentially come up with measures to counter the fallout stemming from the shutdown, such as manufacturing delay or cash shortage,” Lee Suk-joon, the top official in charge of government policy coordination at the prime minister’s secretariat, said in a meeting.
Participants included the vice ministers of the finance, trade and interior; and officials from relevant government agencies.
Lee said the government will make efforts so that “swift and sufficient measures” are drawn up for the firms operating there.
Noticeably, the government said the maturity of loans offered to the firms will be extended.
Also, emergency funds will be lent to those firms suffering from a cash shortage, officials said.
Separately, a task-force team operated by the Small and Medium Business Administration will push forward with the measures to provide one-to-one support services for each firm, they said.
A total of 124 South Korean companies are operating in the zone, some 50 kilometers northwest of Seoul, employing more than 54,000 North Korean workers to produce labor-intensive goods, such as clothes and utensils.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s ruling and opposition parties showed mixed reactions to the planned shutdown of the complex.
The ruling Saenuri Party said the party respects the government’s decision, asking the government to make utmost efforts to minimize the damages to the firms.
“It was inevitable for the government to suspend the operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex in light of the current situation,” Kim Moo-sung, the party’s chairman, said during a meeting with senior party members.
Meanwhile, the main opposition Minjoo Party voiced strong opposition to the decision, urging the government to review its decision to shut down the jointly-run industrial complex.
“There is concern that (the decision) will exacerbate security threats,” Lee Jong-kul, the party’s floor leader, said during a party meeting.
The complex, opened in 2004, had been the last-remaining symbol of inter-Korean economic cooperation.’