SEOUL, June 12 (Yonhap) -- Cumulative production of the inter-Korean industrial park has come to US$2.3 billion as the most salient outcome of rapprochement between the Koreas marks its 10th anniversary of operations this week, the unification ministry said Thursday.
The joint factory complex in the North Korean border town of Kaesong opened a decade ago following the first inter-Korean summit meeting in 2000, in which their leaders adopted a joint declaration calling for closer cooperation and exchanges.
On June 14, 2004, a group of 15 South Korean groups signed contracts to operate factories in the then-newly built complex, inaugurating the era of the Kaesong Industrial Complex. In December that year, the joint complex saw its first batch of goods produced in its factories.
In the first full year of operations in 2005, annual output reached $14.9 million before jumping by more than 30-fold to $469.5 million in 2012, according to the unification ministry.
But yearly output nearly halved last year from 2012 after Pyongyang suspended operations of the Kaesong complex for five months from April amid inter-Korean tensions. The figure rose to $168.1 million in the first quarter of this year.
The value of inter-Korean trade through the park came to an accumulated $9.45 billion, according to the ministry.
A total of 940,000 people have visited the inter-Korean economic zone, with 125 South Korean firms currently operating in the complex designed to match deep-pocketed South Korean companies with cheap North Korean labor.
Among the firms, 73, or 58.4 percent, are textile firms, while another 24 firms are machinery or steel makers. The complex is also home to 13 electronics makers and 9 chemicals firms, the ministry noted.
The Kaesong complex also saw the number of North Korean workers grow from around 6,000 in 2005 to 52,000 as of recently, along with monthly salary more than doubling from $50 to more than $130.
Seoul is now making efforts to lure foreign manufacturers into the joint project, with German needle maker Groz-Beckert planning to open a branch there early next month, the ministry said.
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