S. Korean firms in shuttered Kaesong seek aid

Featured Korea - April 25th, 2013

With the future of Kaesong left hanging in the balance after North Korea shut off the joint industrial complex, South Korean firms have turned to Seoul for help as losses mount up.

On Wednesday, Seoul a detailed a set of measures, including tax relief and special loans, for the companies shuttered off in the complex since the North blocked the South Korean access and withdrew all of its 53,000 workers.

The package also involves a number of state bodies including the finance ministry and the national tax agency and will include guarantees for new bank loans and work training for those who lost jobs, reports AFP.

Some business owners, however, said the measures were insufficient to cover mounting losses, with many of the 123 South Korean firms claiming they are on the brink of bankruptcy.

The companies are calling for the complex to be declared a disaster zone in order to win state-guaranteed loans and lenient repayment dates, which Seoul has rejected, reports Wall Street Journal.

Nearly 200 South Korean workers have remained inside Kaesong since the North cut off all access to the area, leaving them without supplies of daily necessities.

Seoul on Thursday warned of an unspecified “grave measures” should Pyongyang reject talks over the facility which has been shut down for a month.