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People's Daily Online

DPRK urges Seoul not to interfere in wage increase for Kaesong workers

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 19:32, May 14, 2015

PYONGYANG, May 14 -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Wednesday that it will invariably enforce the new wage standard for laborers at the Kaesong Industrial Complex and urged Seoul not to interfere, the official KCNA news agency reported Thursday.

The DPRK revised labor regulations for the complex in November 2014 without consulting South Korea, notifying the South side in late February of its decision to eliminate the wage growth ceiling and raise the minimum wage from March for DPRK workers in the cross-border Kaesong Industrial Park.

South Korea had expressed deep regrets over the revision, saying the move breached the north-south agreement.

According to the decision, the minimum wage would be raised from 70.35 U.S. dollars per month to 74 dollars, representing a 5.18 percent increase. However, the ceiling of the wage hike rate was limited to 5 percent per year, according to the previous version of the inter-Korean agreement.

Seoul instructed companies in Kaesong not to pay the increased wages, and companies in violation would have to pay an administrative penalty.

An anonymous spokesman for the General Bureau for Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone said in a statement that the industrial complex is a special economic zone jointly operated with South Korean businessmen, and therefore South Korean authorities 'have neither reason nor pretext to interfere in it.'

'The issue of enforcing the new labor regulations is not an issue to be discussed at the talks between authorities as it is an issue concerning the DPRK's legitimate enforcement of legislation,' the statement said.

The spokesman accused Seoul and the management commission of pressuring South Korean businesses into refusing payment of wages for the DPRK workers, saying Seoul is 'deliberately laying an obstacle in the way of the operation of the KIZ (Kaesong Industrial Zone).'

'The KIZ is, in actuality, a zone for north-south economic cooperation, not a theater for confrontation between the authorities of the north and the south,' the statement said.

The Kaesong Industrial Complex, launched in late 2004 and jointly managed by South Korea and the DPRK, has been seen as one of the key symbols of inter-Korean economic cooperation. Some 120 South Korean companies hiring 53,000 DPRK workers are operating in the park.

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