The Kaesong Industrial Complex in DPRK's border town of Kaesong is seen from ROK's Taesungdong freedom village sitting inside the Demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas in Paju, April 24, 2018. (JUNG YEON-JE / AFP)
SEOUL - The Republic of Korea (ROK) is currently consulting with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on ROK businessmen's visit to the currently closed Kaesong Industrial Complex in DPRK's border town of Kaesong, Seoul's Unification Ministry said Wednesday.
Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told a routine press briefing that the government has consulted with DPRK on visits by businesspeople, who invested in the Kaesong industrial zone, to the now-suspended inter-Korean factory park.
A ROK Unification Ministry spokesman said the consultation was aimed to let the businesspeople inspect their assets in the industrial zone, which was closed down by the previous ROK government in February 2016
Baik said it was aimed to let the businesspeople inspect their assets in the industrial zone, which was closed down by the previous ROK government in February 2016 over Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test and missile launch.
If approved, it would mark the first time since February 2016 that ROK businessmen visits the inter-Korean industrial zone. Previous applications for the visit were delayed six times.
Before the shutdown, 123 ROK companies ran factories in the Kaesong industrial zone, hiring about 54,000 DPRK workers.
According to Yonhap news agency report, about 150 businessmen applied for the visit to Kaesong, including people who had run restaurants and convenient stores before the shutdown.
The spokesman, however, noted that the visit would have nothing to do with the resumption of the industrial zone, saying it aimed to protect the property rights of ROK businessmen.
After their Pyongyang summit in September, ROK President Moon Jae-in and top DPRK leader Kim Jong-un agreed to normalize the Kaesong Industrial Complex and the tour to Mount Kumgang if conditions are met.
The tourism project to DPRK's scenic resort of Mount Kumgang, launched in 1998, has been halted since a ROK tourist was shot dead in July 2008 by a DPRK soldier after allegedly venturing into an off-limit area.
HONG KONG NEWS