N. Korea demands wage hike for Gaeseong workers

By 정주원
  • Published : Mar 16, 2014 - 17:30
  • Updated : Mar 16, 2014 - 17:30
North Korea is demanding a 10-percent pay increase for its workers at an inter-Korean joint factory park for this year, an official said Sunday.

The base pay of North Korean workers at the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, named after the North's border city where it is located, was set at a minimum of $67 per month based on an inter-Korean agreement. South Korean companies give a 5 percent raise annually, and each company pays for overtime.

In addition to a 5 percent annual hike missed last year due to a sudden halt of the park's operations, the North is demanding an additional 5 percent, said the Unification Ministry official.

The Gaeseong Industrial Complex was shut down in early April 2013 after the North unilaterally pulled out all of its workers. It reopened in September after Pyongyang agreed not to repeat such a suspension.

"North Korean authorities in charges of the Gaeseong complex have recently demanded a 10 percent raise in the base pay of Gaeseong workers," the official said.

The Seoul government, however, has decided not to respond to Pyongyang's demands in line with the agreement set by the two sides, the official added.

"(The Seoul government) cannot accept the North's unilateral demands when South Korean firms are having difficulty due to last year's shutdown," the official said.

The output at the Gaeseong park totaled $352.9 million in December, slightly lower than the $364.2 million posted a year earlier, according to ministry data, showing that the operations have almost recovered their normal level.

The Gaeseong Industrial Complex, an offshoot from an agreement from the first-ever inter-Korean summit in 2000, began operations in 2004. The complex now hosts 123 South Korean companies, employing 53,000 North Korean workers to mainly produce labor-intensive goods. (Yonhap)