The South Korean government suspended activities at the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea, a jointly operated industrial zone, after the latter country's nuclear test and long-range rocket launch this month. But the move backfired, Voice of America reported Monday, as a manufacturing association of more than a hundred South Korean companies is now pushing for greater compensation for hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.
The Corporate Association of Kaesong Industrial Complex represents 123 small and midsize manufacturing countries that were affected by the closure. The group said initial losses were estimated at around $644 million. Although the South Korean government vowed to offer financial support and compensation for businesses hurt by the move, the association said insurance covered only about $220 million in losses.
“The government did not say we are exaggerating the amount, but they said it has not been objectively proven,” said Jeong Gi-seob, chairman of the Corporate Association of Kaesong Industrial Complex, according to VOA. The group is reportedly in talks with the government.
— Voice of America (@VOANews) February 29, 2016
Seoul announced suspended operations Feb. 10 after alleging Pyongyang’s military pursuits posed a threat to national security. Three days earlier, North Korea launched a long- range Kwangmyongsong rocket.
Pyongyang froze all assets of the Kaesong companies, deported the remaining staff and took military control over the site. South Korea, meanwhile, cut electricity and water, rendering the facilities unusable by the North.
The Kaesong association is requesting the site be reopened, but at a time political tensions remain high between the North and South Korean governments, that seems increasingly unlikely. Last week, the U.S. pushed forward a draft bill to the U.N. Security Council in the hope of imposing some of the harshest trade restrictions yet.
North Korea has faced U.N. sanctions since 2006 as the international community has sought to divert its nuclear program. Pyongyang is currently banned from import and export of nuclear and missile technology, as well as luxury goods. The industrial complex was opened in 2004 as part of reconciliation between the two countries.