Korea DPR and Korea Republic should resolve Gaeseong wage row via dialogue: official

South Korea’s top pointman on inter-Korean affairs on Wednesday reaffirmed Seoul’s stance that the two Koreas should resolve a wage hike dispute at the inter-Korean industrial complex through dialogue.

The remarks by Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo came as the two Koreas plan to hold a joint committee meeting on the Gaeseong Industrial Complex in the North on Thursday to discuss the dispute over the North’s unilateral move to raise wages for about 55,000 North Korean workers at the complex.

“As the two Koreas had previously agreed to develop the complex into one equipped with global competitiveness, the wage issue should be also resolved through an agreement,” Hong told a forum hosted by the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation.

Hong said that as the North accepted Seoul’s offer for the talks, albeit belatedly, Seoul will also do its utmost for the smooth operation of the factory park, the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.

The planned talks are raising hopes for a resolution to a months-long row that was sparked by Pyongyang’s unilateral bid to hike the minimum wage by 5.18 percent to $74 per month. A total of 124 South Korean small- and medium-sized enterprises operate factories there.

In August 2013, the two sides decided to set up a joint committee in charge of running the industrial park following the North’s unilateral move in April of that year to shut down the park for about four months.

The committee is an integral part of a deal that called for reopening the complex and adopting safeguards to prevent any work suspensions in the future. The committee has not met since June last year due to the North’s refusal.

The joint factory park, which opened in 2004, has served as a major revenue source for the cash-strapped communist North, while South Korea has utilized cheap but skilled North Korean laborers.

Hong also added that the government is open to ideas for pursuing more cooperative projects at the complex, including the opening of a college and hospital. (Yonhap)

 

The Korea Herald

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