North Korea is moving toward closing the Kaesong Industrial Complex in accordance with orders issued by Kim Jong Il before he died, according to new information from a Chosun Workers’ Party cadre based in Pyongyang.
Kim is said to have decreed the closure out of concern that Kaesong was capable of shaking the foundations of the North Korean system thanks to the effect it was having on the minds of those who worked in or near it.
The cadre from the North Korean capital told Daily NK on the 29th, “Kim Jong Il’s greatest concern of all was that as the Kaesong Industrial Complex got bigger it would cause a growing number of workers to harbor feelings of interest and longing for South Korean society. Kim Jong Eun is now focusing on Kim Jong Il’s injunction that ‘you must move decisively to close it as soon as you see a chance.’”
According to the cadre, in the aftermath of the 2007 summit between former South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun and Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang, one North Korean cadre was removed from post for reporting to Kim Jong Il, “The feeling is that the Kaesong Complex has run well for a few years and the people’s lives are noticeably improving so everyone welcomes it.” Kim allegedly told the man, “You must’ve lost your mind, acting so rashly with no idea about Party policy.”
News of the case is said to have reached not only Central Party officials but also some ordinary citizens, causing a rumor to circulate in early 2008 whereby “The Kaesong Complex could now shut down at any time on Kim Jong Il’s word”
The source added, “Kim Jong Il was always telling Party cadres not to expect anything from the Kaesong Complex. It has only ever been used as a propaganda tool symbolizing inter-Korean relations, and this time South Korea has been caught in North Korea’s trap.”
Meanwhile, a second source, this time from northerly Chongjin, also told Daily NK today, “The Kaesong Complex started a process of changing people’s awareness; away from the idea that South Chosun people are our sworn enemy to the notion that we are compatriots, and this thought has now spread far and wide.”
But, the source added, “I have heard the cadre’s words many times, that ‘the Central Party has a plan to get rid of it at any moment.’”
The source went on to claim that North Korean workers attending recruitment interviews for the Complex were told that they would not need to move home since “it is only temporary employment so workers should live in together,” and, “We don’t know what will come of the Kaesong Industrial Complex going forward, so there is no need to move.”
The Chongjin source also added that in public lectures held on Saturday 27th April, people were told, “The stoppage of the Kaesong Complex is deserved punishment for the south side government’s offending of our supreme dignity. If they do not accept this and beg forgiveness for it there is no chance of the Kaesong Complex reopening.”
On October 4th, 2007, when he visited the Kaesong Industrial Complex on his way back from the second inter-Korean summit, former President Roh Moo Hyun commented that “I heard at these talks [with North Korea] that ‘It is inappropriate for the south side to politically use the Kaesong Industrial Complex.’”