KAESONG/SEOUL, Jan. 28 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea on Tuesday began the pilot operation of a new border entry system for a joint factory park in the North's border city of Kaesong, Seoul's unification ministry said.
Some 21 out of 51 South Koreans who crossed the border on the day entered the Kaesong Industrial Complex using the radio frequency identification (RFID) system, the first access via the new method, according to the Ministry of Unification, which handles inter-Korean affairs.
Earlier this month, South Korea completed the RFID system, a data transfer system to facilitate travel to and from the industrial complex, and has since conducted a test-run.
The electronic system, aimed at making South Koreans' access to the joint complex easier, is expected to allow factory managers here to visit the park and return home at any time on days they are permitted to cross the border, according to the ministry.
Until now, Seoul has had to fax a list of names a day before any trip to the North, which would then allow those on the list to cross the border only during a designated time, an obstacle to the overall competitiveness of the complex.
"The new system will significantly reduce the time required for entry procedures from 13 seconds per person to five seconds, and from 15 seconds per car to seven," a ministry official said.
"After the two-week test-run with everyday commuters to and from the Kaesong park, we will check possible technical issues and then fully implement the system after consultation with Pyongyang," he added.'
The Seoul government expects the launch of the new system to serve as a chance for the two Koreas to resolve other pressing issues on communication and customs in a swift fashion.
Along with the RFID system, ways to simplify the customs process for products produced at the Kaesong park and forms of communication between Kaesong and the outside world have also been on the table during three rounds of talks of the joint Kaesong management committee so far, according to ministry officials.
"Next week, the two Koreas are scheduled to hold working-level talks for communication issues, and the customs matters are also under discussion," another ministry official said.
The joint industrial park of Kaesong, the last-remaining symbol of inter-Korean economic cooperation, is home to some 120 South Korean companies that hire more than 44,600 North Koreans.
The project serves as a major legitimate revenue source for the impoverished communist country.