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Production at joint industrial park rises 26 pct in Jan.-April

2015/07/09 09:36

SEOUL, July 9 (Yonhap) -- The value of production made at an inter-Korean industrial park rose 26 percent in the January-April period from a year earlier despite a drawn-out row sparked by North Korea's unilateral wage hike, government data showed Thursday.

The value of production at Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North reached a combined US$186 million in the first four months of the year, compared with $148 million a year earlier, according to the Unification Ministry.

In particular, the production at the park rose 21.8 percent on-year to $51.1 million in March and gained 19.7 percent to $50 million in April, when a wage dispute between the two Koreas heightened.

The two Koreas have been locked in a monthslong wage row following the North's unilateral move to raise wages by 5.18 percent for the some 55,000 North Korean workers at the park in the border city of Kaesong. A total of 124 South Korean small and medium-sized enterprises are operating factories there.

The South has rejected the communist neighbor's move, saying it is in breach of a 2004 agreement that calls for the two sides to set wages through consultations.

In what could be a temporary relief, North Korea accepted South Korea's tentative offer in late May to pay wages at the current level, but Seoul and Pyongyang have yet to resolve the issue fully.

In a separate report unveiled in April, the ministry said that the volume of inter-Korean trade hit a record high in 2014 on growth in exchanges at the industrial park despite Seoul's punitive sanctions on Pyongyang.

The value of inter-Korean trade reached $2.34 billion last year, up 106.2 percent from a year earlier, it said.

The joint factory park, which opened in 2004, is the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation. It has served as a major revenue source for the cash-strapped communist North, while South Korea has utilized cheap but skilled North Korean laborers.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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