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ROK proposes talks with DPRK on Kaesong wage row

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-05-18 12:07

SEOUL - The Republic of Korea (ROK) offered to hold talks with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on the management of an inter-Korean economic zone, including the ongoing row over a wage hike for DPRK workers, the Unification Ministry said Monday.

Unification Ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol told a press briefing that Seoul proposed via the secretariat of the north- south joint committee for the management of the Kaesong industrial complex Friday to hold the sixth round of the committee meeting on May 20.

As the DPRK refused to receive the proposal notice, the ministry delivered its dialogue offer "verbally," Lim said.

The spokesman said the joint committee meeting should be rapidly held to resolve the issues of mutual concern, including the wage dispute, for the stable management and development of the inter-Korean factory park.

The proposal came amid the row between Seoul and Pyongyang over the wage hike for DPRK workers employed by South Korean companies running factories in the DPRK's border town of Kaesong.

After revising its labor regulations, the DPRK raised minimum wages for their workers in Kaesong from $70.35 to 74 dollars from March.

South Korea expressed deep regrets over the unilateral decision, saying the move breached the previous north-south agreement, under which the two sides agreed to adjust labor conditions after consultations.

Pyongyang called on South Korean companies in Kaesong to pay the increased wage or sign a written guarantee that they will pay the increased wage later as arrears charge.

In response, Seoul said any company paying the increased wage would face an administrative penalty.

The Kaesong industrial zone, launched in late 2004 and jointly managed by the two Koreas, has been seen as one of the key symbols of inter-Korean economic cooperation. Some 120 South Korean companies hiring 53,000 DPRK workers are operating in the park.

In 2013, the factory park was shut down for five months as Pyongyang withdrew its workers amid rising military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

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