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Minimum wage for N. Koreans in Kaesong likely to rise 5 pct
SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) -- The minimum wage for workers at the inter-Korean industrial park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong is likely to rise 5 percent this year, the same annual rate of increase since 2007, industry sources said Friday.

   More than 46,000 North Koreans work at about 120 South Korean firms operating in the complex, despite the South's suspension of all other economic ties with the North over the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship last year. The local workers currently earn a minimum monthly income of US$60.775 following a 5 percent increase that took effect last August.

North Korean workers at Kaesong industrial park. (Yonhap file photo)

This year's new minimum rate goes into effect next month after negotiations between the factory park's management officials from the two sides. Under the park's labor regulations, the minimum wage can increase only up to 5 percent from the previous year.

   "The North Koreans are demanding an increase of more than the upper limit (of 5 percent), citing wage levels in other parts of the world," said an official from one of the South Korean firms in Kaesong. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity.

   "In effect, this is equivalent to demanding a wage rise of 5 percent," the official said, adding that the businesses operating in the joint industrial park had tentatively agreed to accept the demand. After the increase, the North Korean workers will earn $63.814 monthly.

   Meanwhile, production at the industrial zone has continued to grow, according to recent data. The park's output of clothes, utensils, watches and other goods rose 26.1 percent last year from 2009. Since its opening in 2004 under former liberal South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, the complex has served as a source of tens of millions of dollars for the cash-strapped North annually.