07/04/2013, 00.00
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Pyongyang Kaesong reopens; in camps its slaves work for China

In a surprise move the northern government agrees to "normalize" the red line of dialogue with Seoul and allows industrialists to visit the complex, closed on April 3. But a study conducted among the exiles of the regime denounces: "In the forced labor camps, political prisoners produce goods for the Chinese market."

Seoul (AsiaNews) - In a totally unexpected move, the government of North Korea reopened the red line of dialogue with Seoul overnight and announced that Southern industrialists "will be allowed" visit Kaesong, the inter-Korean complex closed by the regime after the crisis in March. At the same time, however, an investigation into reports that the Pyongyang regime's labour camps "prisoner-slaves" are forced to produce cosmetic items for the Chinese market.

The North's announcement was confirmed by an official of the Unification Ministry in Seoul: "The red line [dedicated phone channel that connects the two governments-ed] was reopened and the North has accepted our request to normalize communications". Moreover, he added, "We have received assurances about the possibility for our industrialists, to visit the complex and to take the necessary measures to prevent its deterioration."

The Kaesong industrial complex is located in North Korean territory, but is subject to bilateral agreements: on land owned by South companies with laborers from the North. Profits are distributed in an equal manner. On 3 April, after an escalation of tension that lasted almost a month, Pyongyang unilaterally closed the complex. In recent days, Seoul industrialists warned that they had "no intention" to continue to maintain the closed factories and the Kim regime agreed to reopen them.

The North Korean economy is on the brink of an abyss. The disastrous economic policies of the late Kim Jong-il, the total dedication to the nuclear program (illegal according to the international community) and subsequent embargo decided by the UN - that has blocked imports and exports - have bent the regime. In its labor camps political and religious prisoners are being forced to work for the Chinese market.

The complaint comes from a study that involved a group of 60 women, who fled from the north between 2011 and 2012. From the text - sponsored by the British Embassy in South Korea - it is clear that in the Kim camps detainees are in fact slaves, who work to produce goods (mainly cosmetic) for China. Johanna Hosaniak, deputy director of the Alliance for the human rights of North Koreans, says: "Most of these centers produce for the Chinese market, there is no doubt. All former political prisoners speak of this production."



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