German firm to be 1st foreign firm to set up in joint North-South Korea Kaesong complex

South Korea on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, said it had green-lighted a German company supplying industrial needles to set up as the first foreign company in the Kaesong joint industrial zone (above) run with North Korea. -- PHOTO: ANDREW SALMON
South Korea on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, said it had green-lighted a German company supplying industrial needles to set up as the first foreign company in the Kaesong joint industrial zone (above) run with North Korea. -- PHOTO: ANDREW SALMON

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea on Tuesday said it had green-lighted a German company supplying industrial needles to set up as the first foreign company in the Kaesong joint industrial zone run with North Korea.

Groz-Beckert will provide its needles to South Korean company operating in the Kaesong complex, which opened in 2004 as a rare symbol of cross-border cooperation, the South's Unification Ministry said.

"It will be the first foreign company to do business there, although its office is not a manufacturing facility," a ministry official told AFP.

The office will be manned by two North Korean workers and several staff from Groz-Beckert's branch in South Korea.

Kaesong, which lies 10km on the North Korean side of the border, employs more than 50,000 North Koreans in around 120 South Korean light industrial companies.

Pyongyang shut down the complex in April last year by withdrawing its workforce as military tensions surged in the wake of North Korea's third nuclear test.

It re-opened five months later but talks on reforming the way Kaesong is managed have shown little progress.

South Korea has been pushing hard for overseas involvement in the zone, believing the presence of foreign companies would make it harder for Pyongyang to shut down the complex in the future.

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