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(LEAD) Unification minister meets with bizmen investing in Kaesong complex

All Headlines 16:46 July 12, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 7-10)

SEOUL, July 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's unification minister on Wednesday met with a group of company officials who ran factories at a now-shuttered industrial complex in North Korea as they called for more compensation for their losses over the closure.

Cho Myoung-gyon held a meeting with 14 officials from local firms that invested in the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea's border city of the same name, according to Seoul's unification ministry.

"Since I became the minister, what struck me first was the joint industrial complex," the minister said at the start of the meeting. "I think that there is the need to join hands with the firms in finding solutions (to the issue)."

This photo taken on July 12, 2017, shows Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon (C) speaking at the start of a meeting with officials from local firms that ran factories at the now-shuttered Kaesong Industrial Complex. (Yonhap)

Seoul shut down the complex in February 2016 in response to North Korea's fourth nuclear test and long-range rocket launch last year.

The firms claimed that the closure has incurred more than 1.5 trillion won (US$1.4 billion) in financial losses, saying that the government's financial support is not sufficient to cover their damage.

Under the government of President Moon Jae-in's predecessor, South Korea provided 501.7 billion won in funds to them after calculating their losses at some 786 billion won.

At the meeting, the company officials asked the government to provide more funds promptly to cover their losses, including damage to liquid assets, according to the ministry.

Cho told them that the government will actively consider assistance from the perspective of state responsibility, though it will take into account the degree of their business normalization and state finances.

South Korea's unification ministry earlier said the resumption of the industrial park would hinge on progress in the resolution of North Korea's nuclear and missile problems.

A resumption of the complex could spur a dispute over South Korea's possible violation of international sanctions.

Opened in 2004, the factory zone had housed 124 South Korean firms hiring more than 54,000 North Korean workers to produce labor-intensive goods, such as clothes and utensils.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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