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Inter-Korean trade recovers following reopening of Gaesong complex

  Inter-Korean trade has gradually been returning to normal levels following the reopening of a joint industrial park in North Korea's border city of Gaesong in September, government data showed Sunday.

   According to data from the Ministry of Unification and the Korea Customs Service, two-way trade between South and North Korea amounted to $152.15 million last month. The amount is equivalent to 80.9 percent of total bilateral trade in the same month last year.

   "Exports have grown with the entry of large amounts of raw materials, production facilities and food supplies as (the Gaesong complex) prepares to resume operations in earnest," a ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

   The complex, which ground to a halt in April amid high security tensions on the Korean Peninsula, reopened in September.

Inter-Korean trade is limited to the joint factory park because all other economic exchanges have been banned since May 2010 due to North Korea's sinking of a South Korean warship in March of that year.

   "The Gaesong Industrial Complex is gradually recovering to previous levels," the official said.

   The complex, a key outcome of the first-ever inter-Korean summit in 2000, combines South Korean capital and technology with cheap North Korean labor to produce clothes, utensils, watches and other labor-intensive goods.

   The project serves as a key source of cash for the impoverished country.