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2008/07/08 10:42 KST
Number of N.K. workers at Kaesong complex tops 30,000

   By Shim Sun-ah
SEOUL, July 8 (Yonhap) -- The number of North Koreans working at the South Korea-funded joint industrial complex in the communist state surpassed 30,000 last weekend despite ongoing political tension between the two Koreas.

   Seventy-two South Korean firms were operating in Kaesong, a North Korean town just north of the border with the South, and employing 30,084 North Korean workers as of July 4, the South's civilian body overseeing the complex said Tuesday.

   The complex had only 225 North Korean workers in its early stage in 2004.

   Relations have been frozen since South Korea's conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office in late February, vowing to link cross-border ties to North Korea's nuclear disarmament efforts. Pyongyang cut off government-level dialogue with Seoul in retaliation, but civilian exchanges have continued unhindered.

   Total production at the complex has been on a steady rise from US$15 million at the end of 2005 to $373.8 million as of the end of May, up 147 percent from last year, the Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee said.

   "Such a rise in production is notable in that 33 of the 72 firms in the complex are start-ups operating there for less than one year," said Kim Min-kyong, a public relations official of the committee.

   sshim@yna.co.kr
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