SEOUL, May 19 (Yonhap) -- SMEs Minister Park Young-sun on Sunday expressed hope that the government's recent decision to allow a group of businesspeople to visit a shuttered joint industrial complex in the North will eventually lend hands in normalizing related firms.
"The trip represents a delicate hope of small and medium-sized enterprises," Park, the minister for SMEs and startups, said. "Small and medium-sized companies in Kaesong have waited for this decision for so long."
The industrial zone was built in 2004 amid the peace mood created after the first-ever inter-Korean summit between South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2000.
Its operation, however, came to an abrupt halt when the Seoul government announced in February 2016 that it would shut it down to punish the North for its nuclear and missile provocations.
The business owners have been requesting the government to grant them permission to check the conditions of the equipment they left behind when it was closed. About 120 companies were operating there when the closure was announced.
Park said the government will continue to make efforts to solve issues after carrying out research on related businesses.
"We have been trying to solve the issue through insurances, but that did not make much progress," Park said. "It seems the ministry will become busier."
S. Korea embraces deepening trade row as Japan considers additional measures
S. Korea expands 5G user base, but quality remains issue
S. Korean shipbuilders striving to break GTT monopoly in LNG containment systems
Japan's export curbs to weigh on S. Korean tech firms
Tada struggles to go beyond legal gray area in S. Korean taxi market