The business environment is expected to be improved for firms situated in the Kaesong Industrial Complex with Seoul and Pyongyang having agreed to the restoration of the facilities from September 16. Still, some experts are pointing out that more time will be taken for complete and constructive normalization, as both Koreas have yet to concur on specific issues.
The Kaesong Industrial Complex Joint Committee held its second inter-Korean meeting for two days from September 10. The most remarkable part of the agreement derived from the talks is the introduction of an RFID-based electronic identification system, which is expected to simplify the entrance procedure and improve the business environments for the benefit of the companies housed there.
At the same time, the internationalization of the industrial complex is expected to pick up some speed down the road. Seoul and Pyongyang are planning to attract foreign firms by holding investor relations sessions next month. Both Koreas have already reached an agreement as to the globalization measures, and thus the related details are expected to be made available at the third and fourth meetings. Their consensus on the damage compensation for the firms in the complex is likely to have a positive effect on the process, too.
One of the pending issues is the installation of mobile and Internet networks. The companies are claiming that these are necessary, but the North Korean government is refraining from allowing them. “Nevertheless, both Koreas have the same opinion that the tools need to be provided before the end of this month, and thus it is no stretch to say that things are quite positive as far as this matter is concerned,” said Kim Ki-woong, head of the South Korean side of the committee.
“If the past is any guide, political factors have affected the implementation of various agreements, even after those were finalized,” said an inter-Korean relations expert, continuing, “It seems that the Labor Party is in control of things these days, but the restoration of the industrial complex cannot be assured if the military holds sway again.” At least for now, the majority of watchers are predicting that North Korea would not resort to a drastic option like the deportation of employees, because it has no more trump cards with regard to the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
In the meantime, keen attention is being paid nowadays to whether Mt. Kumgang tourism will be resumed, as separated family reunions are scheduled for six days from September 25 in the Mt. Kumgang area, and South Korean personnel are staying there now to prepare for the event. However, the South Korean government has stressed that this event has nothing to do with Mt. Kumgang tourism.