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South, North Koreans To Return To Kaesong Complex

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South, North Koreans To Return To Kaesong Complex

Asia

South, North Koreans To Return To Kaesong Complex

South, North Koreans To Return To Kaesong Complex

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South Korean managers are heading back to their factories at a complex located just north of the Demilitarized Zone. They're teaming up with North Korean workers to test-run idle assembly lines. The complex has been closed for five months because of political tensions between the two countries.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's business news begins with back to work on the Korean Peninsula.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: South Korean bosses and their North Korean workers are getting back on the job, five months after political tensions shut down a joint industrial zone.

But as NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports, it could still take some time before it's business as usual.

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: More than half of the 123 South Korean firms in the Kaesong Industrial Zone are getting back to work, cleaning factory floors and retooling assembly lines. The five-month hiatus has cost the labor-intensive businesses there a combined total of about a billion dollars.

North Korea pulled its more than 50,000 workers out of the zone in April, as it ramped up warlike rhetoric aimed at Seoul and Washington. But the park is the only point of economic cooperation between the two Koreas, and one of the North's few legitimate sources of hard currency.

The two sides are now discussing opening Kaesong to international investors. First, they'll need to wire the park for mobile phone and Internet service. They'll also need to convince investors that the park won't constantly be held hostage to the ups and downs of inter-Korean politics.

Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Beijing.

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