North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Kim Yang Gon Visits Kaesong Industrial Complex, Withdraws DPRK Workers

Kim Yang Gon (C) meeting with residents of the Ch'angjon Street apartment complex in July 2012.  On 8 April 2013 Kim Yang Gon met with officials at the Kaesong Industrial Zone and issued a statement which declared the country would "withdraw" the DPRK's 53,000 workers from the zone. (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

Kim Yang Gon (C) meeting with residents of the Ch’angjon Street apartment complex in July 2012. On 8 April 2013 Kim Yang Gon met with officials at the Kaesong Industrial Zone and issued a statement which declared the country would “withdraw” the DPRK’s 53,000 workers from the zone. (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

DPRK state media reported on 8 April (Monday) that Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary and Director of the United Front Department [UFD], Kim Yang Gon issued a statement following a visit to the the Kaeso’ng Industrial Complex (Kaeso’ng Industrial Zone).  Kim, a DPRK civilian intelligence official who manages the department (UFD) responsible for inter-Korean relations, said the country will “withdraw all its employees from the zone” and “will temporarily suspend the operations in the zone and examine the issue of whether it will allow its existence or close it as the south Korean authorities and military warmongers seek to turn it into a hotbed of confrontation between compatriots and war against the DPRK, hurting its dignity.”  There are approximately 53,000 DPRK employees in the complex.  The  Kim also announced that “General Bureau for Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone will be responsible for the working matters related to the important steps including the withdrawal of the employees and the temporary suspension of the operations in the zone” and that the future of the Kaeso’ng complex “will develop in the days ahead will entirely depend on the attitude of the south Korean authorities.”

Prior to issuing the statement, Kim toured the Kaeso’ng complex, accompanied by officials from the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (f.k.a. Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland) and from the General Bureau for the Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone.  Kim Yang Gon toured the offices of the DPRK’s Guidance Bureau and “Kaesong Industrial Zone combined supporting center and other units and production sites inside the zone.”  Kim also visited the Military Demarcation Line [MDL] where he “drew attention to the fate of the zone that has been put at stake as the south Korean conservative authorities aggravated the situation by making remarks slandering the dignity of the DPRK over the zone issue.”  He also “branded the scheme as an intentional provocation to make the zone a starting point of a war” in response to ROK Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin’s recent remarks on utilizing special forces in the event South Korean nationals working in the complex are taken hostage.  According to KCNA, Kim “called for maintaining strained and mobilized posture on a high alert with the U.S. and the south Korean warmongers stepping up moves to provoke a war against the DPRK” and said that “it has become impossible to operate the zone as usual due to the south Korean warmongers’ reckless acts.”  After his tours Kim Yang Gon convened a meeting with local DPRK officials “and entrusted relevant fields with detailed tasks, urging them to get fully ready to cope with whatever development in the zone.”

Kaesong Industrial Complex (Kaesong Industrial Zone) (Photo: Google image)

Kaesong Industrial Complex (Kaesong Industrial Zone) (Photo: Google image)

According to South Korean media, the removal of DPRK workers from the Kaeso’ng Industrial Complex may occur as early as 9 April (Tuesday), and that the DPRK has requested that companies in Kaeso’ng that “only bare essential personnel should remain.”  South Korea’s new Minister of Unification Ryoo Kihl-jae told South Korean legislators that “There is no guarantee that an envoy can reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula.  Seoul does not think now is the time to send such a person over to the North,” that “returning things to normal does not require negotiation” and that “The current conditions are not conducive to talks.  The North is not showing the right attitude needed for discussions to take place.”  Ryoo was responding both to the DPRK’s most recent statement about the Kaeso’ng zone and “calls by the 123 South Korean companies with factories at the Kaesong Industrial Complex and by politicians for the government to engage in talks with the North.”

According to Yonhap, there are “475 South Koreans in Kaesong, with a total of 39 workers having crossed over to the South during the day (Monday)” and “77 workers are expected to return here, although that number may change after consultations between the unification ministry and the businesses on Tuesday.”

Kim Yang Gon’s statement on the Kaeso’ng zone, according to KCNA was:

The Korean Peninsula has been put in the state of war due to the serious anti-DPRK moves of the U.S. and south Korean authorities and their moves for a nuclear war.

Not content with escalating military tension together with the U.S., the south Korean conservatives, in particular, are running the whole gamut of intrigues to find a pretext for igniting a war against the DPRK after reducing the Kaesong Industrial Zone to a theatre of confrontation.

Defying the repeated warnings of the DPRK, the south Korean confrontation maniacs are letting loose a string of invectives hurting the dignity of the DPRK, talking about “source of money”, “detention” and “hostages”. South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jin revealed his sinister intention to introduce a special unit of the U.S. forces into the zone, vociferating about an operation for “rescuing hostages”.

This goes to prove that the south Korean warmongers seek to turn the zone into a hotbed of war against the DPRK.

By origin, the zone was built as a symbol of reconciliation, cooperation and reunification after the DPRK granted a privilege to Jong Ju Yong, honorary chairman of Hyundai Group of south Korea, valuing his patriotic will for reunification.

The DPRK’s offer to south Korean enterprises a vast area near the Military Demarcation Line where armed forces of the north and the south are standing in acute confrontation was a bold decision based on ardent love for the nation and compatriotism and a manifestation of the firm will for independent reunification, peace and prosperity based on the spirit of “By our nation itself” clarified in the historic June 15 North-South Joint Declaration.

When traitor Lee Myung Bak did serious harm to the inter-Korean relations in all aspects, getting hell-bent on confrontation after coming to power, the zone remained unaffected by it thanks to the desire and will of all Koreans in the north and the south for reunification and kept its operations for common prosperity.

But the zone is now in the grip of a serious crisis.

The zone, a product of the June 15 joint declaration, has been reduced to a theater of confrontation with fellow countrymen and military provocation, quite contrary to its original nature and mission due to such hideous confrontation maniacs as Kim Kwan Jin. This situation can no longer be tolerated.

The south Korean conservative forces claim that the DPRK will never give up the zone as it benefits from the industrial zone, but it gets few economic benefits from the zone while the south side largely benefits from it.

The DPRK provided an area of military strategic importance to the south side, in particular. This meant a big concession.

It is a tragedy that the industrial zone which should serve purposes of national reconciliation, unity, peace and reunification has been reduced to a theatre of confrontation between compatriots and war against the north. The existence of such zone is no better than nothing.

The DPRK is compelled to make an important decision related to the issue of the industrial zone now that the south Korean authorities abuse the generosity and compatriotism of the DPRK for their hostile purpose.

Upon authorization, I declare the following important steps as regards the crisis in the Kaesong Industrial Zone:

The DPRK will withdraw all its employees from the zone.

It will temporarily suspend the operations in the zone and examine the issue of whether it will allow its existence or close it as the south Korean authorities and military warmongers seek to turn it into a hotbed of confrontation between compatriots and war against the DPRK, hurting its dignity.

The General Bureau for Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone will be responsible for the working matters related to the important steps including the withdrawal of the employees and the temporary suspension of the operations in the zone.

How the situation will develop in the days ahead will entirely depend on the attitude of the south Korean authorities

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