SEOUL, May 2 (Yonhap) -- Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul met with businesspeople who operated factories in a now-shuttered industrial park in North Korea's border town of Kaesong on Thursday, his office said.
On Tuesday, around 200 businesspeople requested government permission for a trip to the area to check the equipment they left behind when the Kaesong industrial complex was abruptly closed in 2016 amid nuclear and missile tensions. It marked their ninth request to visit there since the complex's closure.
During the luncheon meeting, they explained to the minister the need for their trip to the North and asked for his cooperation and support, according to the unification ministry.
Kim listened to their demand carefully and promised to maintain close communication with them, the ministry said, without providing further details about the meeting held behind closed doors.
The government has turned down their previous attempts to visit the industrial park amid worries that it might send a signal that preparations would be underway to resume its operation at a time when Washington is trying to keep sanctions and pressure on the North until its complete denuclearization.
Opened in 2004, the Kaesong complex was hailed as a successful cross-border economic cooperation project as it combined South Korea's capital with North Korea's cheap labor.
All South Korean businesspeople, however, had to leave on short notice in February 2016 at the order of the then conservative Park Geun-hye government, which decided to close the park in the wake of the North's nuclear and missile provocations.
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