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Local NGO sends letter to U.N. chief urging sanctions relief over coronavirus concerns

All News 15:09 April 03, 2020

SEOUL, April 3 (Yonhap) -- A local nongovernmental organization has urged the United Nations to ease sanctions on North Korea to enable a shuttered inter-Korean industrial complex in the communist nation to reopen and produce masks and other medical products amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lee Sang-hoon, the director of World Peace Corps Mission South and North Korea Sharing Community, an NGO working to provide assistance to North Koreans, made the appeal in a letter sent on March 26 to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

"We call on the U.N. Security Council to urgently revise the resolution on sanctions against North Korea so that medical supplies, such as masks and protective gowns, can be produced at the Kaesong Industrial Complex to overcome the COVID-19 virus," he said in the letter.

Lee said providing medical supplies produced at the industrial complex to people across the world would symbolize inter-Korean reconciliation.

Some experts and lawmakers have also urged for operations to resume at the industrial park to address mask shortages, but the government has brushed these calls aside, citing practical challenges.

Launched in 2004, the Kaesong Industrial Complex was born on the back of a peace mood after the first-ever inter-Korean summit, between South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, in 2000.

It was hailed as a symbol of inter-Korean economic cooperation and a successful cross-border project that combined South Korean capital and technology with cheap labor from North Korea.

In 2016, Seoul closed the Kaesong Industrial Complex in retaliation for the North's fourth nuclear test. Efforts to resume operations there have made little progress amid a stalemate in denuclearization talks.


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