North Korean authorities recently issued an order to remove machinery and parts from the Kaesong Industrial Complex for use in local factories and these efforts are currently underway, Daily NK has learned. 

A source in Kaesong told Daily NK on Wednesday that the authorities ordered that “necessary machinery and parts” be taken from factories within the Kaesong Industrial Complex to “create new light industrial factories in downtown Kaesong or to transfer equipment to pre-existing factories.” The city’s party committee and people’s committee have begun carrying out the order, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. 

The source told Daily NK that North Korean authorities had held continuous discussions on measures to resolve the economic difficulties suffered by Kaesong residents after the city was locked down in July. The lockdown occurred when a North Korean defector suspected of carrying COVID-19 fled South Korea and crossed the inter-Korean border into the city. 

After failing to identify any “special measures” to lessen difficulties in the city, the authorities ultimately decided in early November to use machinery and parts from factories at the Kaesong Industrial Complex to “reinvigorate” factories in the city.

Accordingly, full-fledged efforts to move the machinery and parts needed to create new factories in Kaesong is in progress under the direction of the Kaesong party committee and people’s committee, based on the source’s account. 

Kaesong Industrial Complex, shuttered since February 2016. / Image: Yonhap News Agency

Most of the equipment removed from the complex’s factories include electrical equipment such as motors. Some general machinery and parts are also reportedly being moved bit-by-bit.

A new workforce has also been created following an order by North Korean authorities that the workers at the new factory sites be made up of individuals who worked at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the source said. 

“The Kaesong party and people’s committees ordered even pre-existing local industrial plants to draw up and submit lists of all the equipment they need,” he said, adding, “Work is also underway to divide up the equipment and bring it [to the factories].”

The Kaesong Party Committee has reportedly emphasized a spirit of “self-sufficiency” during the process of removing the equipment and parts. 

The source said the municipal party committee has stressed that “as times get tough, people must not waver before the economic blockade of the United States and its followers, but confront it boldly,” and that North Koreans should “ensure that they become the foundation of the new five-year economic plan by saving everything in our style.”

The source further reported that party committee cadres said that “waiting and hoping for change while relying on the South Chosun [Korean] puppet clique is not our style, and that we must build an economy of our style through the spirit of self-reliance.” 

Voice of America reported (in Korean) on Nov. 28 that there had been “active” movement of personnel, materials and vehicles at locations within the Kaesong Industrial Complex, based on an analysis of satellite images conducted on Nov. 25.

According to VOA’s report, the movement was detected in the complex’s electronics and textile production zones, while objects appeared stacked in rows on the ground next to some of the buildings.

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to