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Heads of S. Korean firms in Kaesong seek to visit frozen assets in N. Korea

All Headlines 14:54 March 11, 2016

SEOUL, March 11 (Yonhap) -- In a desperate attempt to protect their assets in North Korea, a group of South Korean businesspeople said Friday that they will soon request a trip to their workplaces in the communist North.

The group, representing some 120 South Korean firms at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, said it will likely submit its request to the Seoul government on March 21, when an ongoing joint military exercise of South Korean and U.S. forces here will come to an end.

"We again ask the government to help protect our rights to our own property and stop driving us out into a pit," the group said in a press conference in Seoul.

The call for government support came one day after the impoverished North said it will liquidate all South Korean assets in the communist state, apparently including those at the inter-Korean industrial park located only some 40 kilometers north of the inter-Korean border.

"We cannot accept liquidation of any of our assets by the North Korean government without consent from us," the group said, also pointing out to both Seoul and Pyongyang that their assets in North Korea are protected under a 2013 agreement between the two Koreas.

"We will submit our request for a visit to North Korea as soon as the joint military drill ends on the 21st," it added.

All South Korean employees in Kaesong were expelled early last month, soon after Seoul announced a move to suspend the joint industrial park in the wake of Pyongyang's latest nuclear test in January, followed by the launch of a satellite that many believe to have been a disguise for a long-range ballistic missile test.

Both the nuclear test and the claimed satellite launch have been declared military provocations by the U.N. Security Council and resulted in fresh U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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