North Rejects Kaesong Enterprise Visit Request

North Korea today rejected an application from a delegation of South Korean companies based in the Kaesong Industrial Complex to visit the manufacturing zone on the inter-Korean border.

Kim Hyung Seok, a spokesman for the Ministry of Unification told a regular briefing this morning, “North Korea has notified us through the Kaesong Industrial Complex Management Committee that it is unable to agree to the application from ten representatives of enterprises in the zone,” adding, “We find it disappointing that North Korea would even reject this humanitarian measure from the South Korean tenant companies.”

Conveying North Korea’s nominal rationale for refusing, Kim said, “North Korea said that responsibility for the current state of affairs lies with South Korea so they were not allowing entry. However, South Korea and the international community cannot possibly understand what the real reason is.”

The delegation, which includes the president of an association of companies operating in Kaesong, had hoped to be able to deliver food and medicines to staff still residing in the zone over two days. While the group can re-apply for entry, it seems unlikely that North Korea will agree at this stage. Moreover, Pyongyang appears likely to reject an application from a delegation of SMEs to visit the North on the 22nd.

Meanwhile, South Korean workers were able to return south for the first time in four days on the 17th, following Kim Il Sung’s birthday on the 15th. Only four were planning to do so, however, leaving a total of 205 people in the zone.