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Industrial park issue divides the Koreas

SOUTH Korea yesterday rejected North Korea's demand for a massive increase in wages and rent at a joint industrial park struggling to stay afloat, leaving the fate of more than 100 companies and 40,000 workers hanging in the balance.

The meeting comes amid tension on the peninsula over the North's missile and nuclear program. Pyongyang last week vowed to bolster its nuclear arsenal and threatened war to protest sanctions imposed by the United Nations following its May 25 nuclear test.

The Korean officials talked for several hours at the industrial park, which houses 105 South Korean factories in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, but no substantial progress was made.

The two sides agreed to meet again on July 2, said South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung.

North Korean officials, however, said they may ease restrictions on border traffic for South Korean workers, Chun said.

South Korea's immediate concern is the fate of a citizen, who was detained by North Korea in March while working as a supervisor at a dormitory for South Korean workers at the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

It is the last remaining joint project as the North has shut down all others amid plummeting relations with the South. "We urged a quick resolution of security issues, including a quick release of our worker detained for more than 80 days," Chun said.

South Korea proposed that officials from the two sides hold a joint tour of industrial complexes in other countries to see how they work, Chun said.


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