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South, North Korea discuss Kaesong wage row

16 July 2015 10:13


Officials from North and South Korea have started rare talks over a prolonged wage dispute at a jointly operated border area known as the Kaesong industrial zone.

North Korea last week agreed to reactivate a joint committee in charge of running the industrial park, for the first time in more than a year, to discuss the wage dispute.

A five-member South Korean government delegation was received by their North Korean counterparts at the industrial zone upon arrival on Thursday.

The head of the South Korean delegation, Lee Sang-Min, a senior Unification Ministry official, met with his counterpart who is leading the North Korean side of the talks, Pak Chol-Su.

The meeting is termed a landmark one by local media in the South, as it can potentially solve the months-long row.

The dispute began after Pyongyang insisted on unilaterally imposing a pay rise for its workers.

The Kaesong estate is located just 10 kilometers (six miles) north of the South Korean border inside North Korea.

The industrial estate is a joint enterprise between Pyongyang and Seoul. It hosts around 120 South Korean firms employing some 53,000 North Korean workers.

South Korean companies working in the North get cheap labor on top of special loans and tax breaks from their government.

Back in 2013, Pyongyang shut down the zone for five months by withdrawing its workers following a surge in military tensions with Seoul.

Many firms in the South are still reeling from financial losses from the shutdown, according to reports.

Kaesong was launched in 2003 to boost ties between the two neighbors.

The complex was set up following a summit in 2000 that was held between South Korea’s then President Kim Dae-jung and former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

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