ROK's delegation heads for Kaesong amid wage row with DPRK

Updated: 2015-05-15 11:12


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SEOUL - A group of the Republic of Korea's businessmen representing businesses running factories in the Kaesong industrial complex headed for the border town of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) amid the ongoing wage row between the two sides.

The delegation crossed the inter-Korean land border on Friday morning to visit Kaesong, just north of the heavily fortified demarcation line, according to the Unification Ministry.

Their visit came amid the ongoing inter-Korean disputes over wage increase. The DPRK raised minimum wages for their workers in Kaesong from $70.35 to $74 from March.

The ROK expressed deep regrets over the "unilateral" decision, saying the move breached the previous north-south agreement, under which the two sides should adjust labor conditions after consultations.

Pyongyang called on the ROK's companies in Kaesong to pay the increased wage or sign a written guarantee that they will pay the increased wage later as arrears charge.

In response, Seoul said that any company paying the increased wage would face an administrative penalty.

The business delegation was quoted by Yonhap News Agency as saying that they planned to call for the DPRK to allow them to pay the current-level wage first and the remainder of the increased wage when the two authorities reach an agreement on the wage issue.

On April 13, the DPRK's General Bureau for Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone said in a statement that the ROK should not interfere in the wage issue as it is a matter of its legitimate enforcement of labor legislations.

A day later, the ROK's government said that all problems caused by the DRPK's unilateral decision should be held responsible for Pyongyang.

The Kaesong industrial zone, launched in late 2004 and jointly managed by the two sides, has been seen as one of the key symbols of inter-Korean economic cooperation. Some 120 ROK's companies hiring 53,000 DPRK workers are operating in the park.

In 2013, the factory park was shut down for five months as Pyongyang withdrew its workers amid rising military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.