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Water shortages in N. Korea not serious enough to hurt joint factory park: Seoul

2015/10/07 11:39

SEOUL, Oct. 7 (Yonhap) -- A drought in North Korea has led to water shortages at an inter-Korean industrial park in the country, but the situation is not serious enough to threaten operations, the Unification Ministry said Wednesday.

Rep. Sim Jae-kwon of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy claimed that Kaesong Industrial Park is facing a possible shutdown as the prolonged dry spell has brought about water shortages.

He said that there is also an environmental concern as South Korea's plan to secure water from the Sacheon River in Kaesong is feared to damage wetlands.

The ministry dismissed Sim's claim, saying that recent rain helped ease the water shortages to a point that there is no need to obtain water from the river.

"It is a fact that North Korea is suffering from water shortages due to the drought. So South Korean companies at the complex are saving water," Jeong Joon-hee, ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing. "But the situation is not serious enough to affect the operation of the park."

   He said that local firms' efforts to save water would be sufficient to keep the factory park running even if it does not rain much over a one-year period.

Until May, North Korea had been grappling with what it called the worst drought in 100 years, sparking food shortage concerns. But since June, the situation has considerably eased, the ministry said in July.

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 North, while South Korea has utilized cheap but skilled North Korean laborers.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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