S. Korean bizmen request Kaesong park resumption for next month

PAJU, South Korea, Aug. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korean businessmen operating firms in the shuttered joint factory zone in the North's border city called Friday for resuming operations early next month.

In a press conference wrapping up their two-day inspection into facilities that have remained idle for months, the operators also urged the government to allow them to bring back and forth raw materials. In addition, they requested that their workers stay on site to prepare for the park's resumption.

Last week, the two Koreas agreed to restart the Kaesong Industrial Complex, home to 123 South Korean companies. Its operation came to a halt in early April after the North pulled out all of its 53,000 workers amid heightened tensions following Pyongyang's third nuclear test.

But the two sides have yet to fix the date of the park's resumption.

"Our inspection found that most of the companies are able to begin production even right now ... We ask (the government) to allow the resumption of partial operations in early September," said Han Jae-kwon, who led the association of the firms operating at Kaesong.

"In a preparatory step to resume production, we ask for the government's permission to bring back and forth raw manufacturing materials, and for our workers to remain there," he added.

The firms' association also expressed hope for the swift establishment of a joint committee to oversee operations there.

Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to set up the joint committee to be in charge of running the factory zone, rather than giving full authority to the North's government body named the General Bureau for Central Guidance, as was done in the past.

The businessmen visited the factory zone to check their facilities for two days from Thursday, and are scheduled to launch their maintenance job next week.

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