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Owners of Kaesong firms challenge constitutionality of shutdown

All Headlines 15:33 May 09, 2016

SEOUL, May 9 (Yonhap) -- A group of South Korean firms with facilities at the now-defunct joint industrial park with North Korea filed a complaint Monday, challenging the constitutionality of a government decision to close the inter-Korean industrial complex.

The complaint, filed with the Constitutional Court of Korea, came about three months after the Seoul government shut down the joint industrial park located just north of the Inter-Korean border in Kaesong, North Korea.

The Feb. 10 decision was made in line with intensifying international sanctions on the communist North for its recent series of military provocations that included a Jan. 6 nuclear test.

Immediately following the shutdown by the South Korean government, Pyongyang expelled all South Korean employees of the 124 South Korean firms then operating in the Kaesong complex.

"We had continuously asked the North Korean government to run the Kaesong complex under regulations and rules agreed upon between the two Koreas, but it turned out that our own government violated our property rights by shutting down the Kaesong complex with no legal basis," the Kaesong firms said.

The businesses earlier argued the damage will easily amount to trillions of won, considering the amount of finished goods and materials they were forced to leave behind, along with their production facilities and equipment.

Also joining the petition against the government are some 50 business affiliates and partners of the Kaesong firms, claiming damage from their loss of business, according to lawyers representing the firms.

"This petition is not asking the Constitutional Court to review whether the decision by the government was necessary for national security or other public interest," said Kim Gwang-gil, one of two counselors representing the group.

"It is strictly asking the court to decide whether the government decision was legitimate under the law."

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