North Korea’s move to suspend access to the Kaesong industrial complex, one of the last remaining points of engagement between North and South, has jeopardized more than just diplomatic relations between the two countries — it has also imperiled the 123 companies that conduct operations there.
Since the complex opened in 2004 as part of Seoul’s “Sunshine Policy” toward the North, it has expanded to employ over 50,000 North Koreans and hundreds of South Korean managers. Despite years of cross-border tensions, the complex has been mostly immune to meddling by either side and produces about $2 billion worth of “labor-intensive goods a year” — making it an important source of hard currency for the North.
But now that Pyongyang has closed off access to the complex, the companies there risk losing a lot of business, as one executive told The New York Times:
“If this doesn’t end in a day or two, it will cause us a serious trouble because we have orders to meet,” said Bang Bok-jin, an official at Jaeyoung Solutec Co., which employs 1,000 North Koreans in Kaesong assembling tiny cameras for smart phones and rear-view mirror modules for cars.
So what companies are caught in the mess of North-South brinkmanship? It’s a maze of manufacturers of car parts, leather goods, underwear, electronics, cell phone parts, shoes, and textiles. The BBC pegs the total number of companies at 123. For a complete list of the companies, the latest comprehensive assessment comes from the Congressional Research Service’s 2011 report. We’ve provided the complete list of companies below:
John Reed is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He comes to FP after editing Military.com’s publication Defense Tech and working as the associate editor of DoDBuzz. Between 2007 and 2010, he covered major trends in military aviation and the defense industry around the world for Defense News and Inside the Air Force. Before moving to Washington in August 2007, Reed worked in corporate sales and business development for a Swedish IT firm, The Meltwater Group in Mountain View CA, and Philadelphia, PA. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter at the Tracy Press and the Scotts Valley Press-Banner newspapers in California. His first story as a professional reporter involved chasing escaped emus around California’s central valley with Mexican cowboys armed with lassos and local police armed with shotguns. Luckily for the giant birds, the cowboys caught them first and the emus were ok. A New England native, Reed graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a dual degree in international affairs and history.| The Complex |