S. Korean businesses to resume operations at Gaeseong industrial zone with N. Korea
In line with the recent improvement in inter-Korean relations, South Korean firms with factories at the inter-Korean Gaeseong Industrial Complex resume operations today.
The companies, however, face several hurdles to get their businesses back on track.
For the latest, we have our Kim Hyun-bin live on the phone from the Inter-Korean Transit Office.
One-hundred-sixty-five days…. that's how long the Gaeseong Industrial Complex has been sitting idle but today is a new start for the two Koreas as over 800 South Korean industrial workers entered Gaeseong at around 8am, Korea time, which is two hours ago, to reboot their machines and get back to work.
Now this is the first day companies can go back, but only around 60 percent of the 123 South Korean firms at Gaeseong are expected to get back to work today.
With the factory park closed for so long, what are some major difficulties the firms face getting up and running again?
Well the road to normal operations looks like it'll be a rocky one.
Since the factory park has been closed for over five months, the firms are lacking orders from buyers.. and experts say that it will probably take more than a year to reach normalization.
To minimize losses, analysts say South Korean firms in Gaeseong will need to attract old and new buyers in order to operate at full capacity. This may be tricky. as other firms may be weary of placing orders given what happened 5 months ago and the unpredictable nature of North Korea.
Well there is another task the companies face the Export-Import Bank of Korea is putting pressure on firms to return money they'd taken from the inter-Korean economic co-operation insurance fund, which was set up to help the companies tick over during the shutdown.
Forty-six firms took roughly 140 million U.S. dollars from the fund, but paying it back could be difficult, especially considering they haven't made any sales for over five months.
In response to concerns, the Gaeseong emergency committee will ask the government to extend the payback date, currently set for October 15th.
Back to you.
That was our Kim Hyun-bin reporting from the Inter-Korean Transit Office on the reopening of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex. We'll check in again with him for our next newscast at noon, Korea time.
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