Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gaeseong Companies Eligible for Emergency Funds

A Unification Ministry official says that South Korean companies operating at the Gaeseong Industrial Complex are eligible for emergency financial support provided by the Small and Medium Business Administration.

The official on Friday said the business association confirmed that the Gaeseong companies qualify for emergency financial aid. The ministry had previously said that support was limited to a dozen parent companies investing in the North and some 200 companies that process brought-in materials there, excluding 121 other firms that operate at the complex.

The official, however, said that due to limited resources, the state support will first go to general firms working on inter-Korean economic projects, and then processing companies, thereby placing the Gaeseong companies at lowest priority.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Number of N.Korean Workers at Kaesong Increases Despite Inter-Korean Tensions

Complex has seen a steady increase despite strained relations between the two Koreas.

According to a report by the Ministry of Unification submitted to the

National Assembly, there are about 120 companies operating at the

complex employing over 44,000 North Koreans.

The number of workers continues to grow from 42,000 in January to

43,000 in April to 44,000 this month, the report said.

More North workers at Kaesong

Despite tension over the sinking of a South Korean warship, the number of
North Korean workers at the two countries’ joint industrial complex has
reached the highest point since it opened in 2004, a government report
said yesterday.
The number stood at 44,000 as of June, 2,000 more than in January, the
Unification Ministry said in a parliamentary report, adding that 121 South
Korean firms are operating in the communist country’s border town of
Kaesong near the west coast.
The report suggests the factory park, considered the last remaining major
symbol of reconciliation, is growing despite South Korean measures aimed
at punishing the North for the Cheonan sinkig in March. Forty-six sailors
died in the attack.
North Korea denies that it played any role in the tragedy, but a multinational investigation pinpointed Pyongyang as the aggressor. Seoul banned cross-border trade late last month, and scaled down the number of South Koreans permitted to stay each day in Kaesong.
Last week, South Korean firms operating in Kaesong said they were seeking
rescue funds from the government because their businesses had deteriorated amid cross-border tensions. The complex opened in 2004 after the two sides’ leaders sides agreed on the venture in a summit in 2000.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Firms and Workers Did Most for Korea's Growth, Poll Finds

Korea's national power was achieved through the hard work of domestic corporations and their staff since the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950.

This is according to a survey of 800 Koreans over 19 for the 60th anniversary of the fratricidal war.

The poll by the Federation of Korean Industries shows that 64 percent of respondents said companies and workers were the ones who contributed most to the nation's growth, followed by scientists, technicians and civil rights activists.

But 37 percent said they think the roles of domestic firms and their workers in Korea's economic advancement are not fully acknowledged. Some 67 percent said that the proudest accomplishment of the country is its rapid economic growth and democratization. Thirteen percent replied that they are proud of Korea's improved civil awareness, while others chose development in sports and culture as well as its strengthened foreign policy and ability to defend itself.

But more than 65 percent of the respondents said Korea's awareness of national security has weakened over the past 60 years, largely due to a change in perspective by those born after the 1950-53 war. And more Koreans think that economic cooperation between the two Koreas as seen in the Kaesong Industrial Complex acts as a diplomatic and security burden on Seoul rather than an aid in easing military tension between the two sides.

Monday, June 21, 2010

N.Korea to Earn $10 Million for World Cup

North Korea will receive at least US$10 million from FIFA for fielding its national team in the World Cup. The figure amounts to three month's wages for the over 43,000 North Koreans working in the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex.

FIFA gives the 32 teams playing in the World Cup $1 million each for preparation costs. After playing three matches in the first round, each team is given an additional $8 million no matter if it advances to the next round or not. From this year, every club that has a player in the World Cup receives $1,600 per day, per player. The paid period begins two weeks before the opening of the tournament and ends a day after the final match of each contending team.

In this undated photo released Saturday by the [North] Korean Central News Agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visits a newly built football stadium in North Pyongan. For North Korea, the period lasts until this Saturday as it plays

its final first-round match against Cote d'Ivoire on Friday. Less the three players who play for foreign football clubs -- Jong Tae-se, An Yong- hak and Hong Yong-jo -- the North will be given a combined $960,000 for the remaining 20 players on its team. Mostly soldiers, they are affiliated with six domestic clubs. FIFA's payment is made to each club, but as the North's are all state-run clubs, Pyongyang has secured at least $9.96 million so far.

If North Korea makes it into the qualifying round it will be awarded an additional $9 million. The teams playing in the quarter-final receive $14 million each and those in the semi-final $18 million each, while the winner takes home $30 million.

With its national team playing in this year's World Cup, North Korea has also signed a $4.9 million deal under which Italy-based sports apparel maker LEGEA will provide the North with jerseys and training gear for four years.

UM: New Loans to SK Companies in Gaeseong Complex Premature

The Unification Ministry says it is premature to decide whether new loans

for companies operating at the Gaeseong Industrial Park will be needed.

A ministry official says that although the industrial park's companies are experiencing financial hardship, operating loans are not handouts from the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund. The official added there is a difference between what the companies need and what they apply for.

In November 2009, the ministry decided to provide six billion won in loans from the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund to 20 companies at the Gaeseong Industrial Park that were financially strained due to the deterioration of inter-Korean relations. However, only nine companies applied for funding amounting to one-point-seven billion won.

The association of companies operating at the complex held an emergency

board meeting on Thursday and decided to apply for more loans, as well as for the deferred repayment of loans they had already received. The requests were made to minimize losses from sanctions that followed North Korea’s torpedo attack on a South Korean naval warship.