One Year On: KBS Sends a Helicopter over the Kaesong Industrial Complex

By | February 10, 2017 | No Comments

February 10 marks the first anniversary of the closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), a unilateral South Korean government action that Sino-NK covered in detail at the time and has looked at from several other angles as well. Today’s onrushing first anniversary prompted several South Korean broadcasters and newspapers to return to the subject. Coverage has included: interviews with KIC business owners; coverage of a press conference on Thursday in which a pressure group of business owners urged the (future) government to reopen the Complex; assessments of the various presidential candidates’ views on what should (and what can) happen next; and a brief graphic story written by a graduate student in the Konkuk University Institute of Humanities for Unification that purports to describe the daily life of a North Korean KIC staff member.

Elsewhere, NK Pro published an article employing satellite imagery of the KIC to assess the facilities one year after the closure. It notes that none of the factories appear to be operational and that the North Korean organization overseeing the complex seems to have gathered together the private vehicles owned by KIC businesses, possibly to stop them degrading in the harsh North Korean winter. Therefore, the piece concludes that “since last year’s closure, North Korean authorities have worked to preserve its assets, hinting that Pyongyang may be keeping open the option of reopening the complex in the future.”

The picture of conditions in the KIC after a year was further augmented by South Korean state broadcaster KBS during the February 9 edition of its flagship news show, News 9. Using a helicopter hovering just inside South Korean territory south of the complex, it seems to draw similar conclusions to the NK Pro piece, but without articulating them as clearly. The KBS report is available to view via the KBS YouTube channel.

 “One year since Kaesong Industrial Complex suspension… and now? [개성공단 중단 1년…지금은?],” KBS News 9, February 9, 2017.

“[On February 10, 2017], it will have been one year since the closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex. What has changed in the last year?” (All images: KBS News 9 YouTube capture)

“Cars can occasionally be seen approaching the rear entrance to the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which connects it to the city of Kaesong.”

“People in small groups are also visible moving around outside the buildings.”

“Kaesong Industrial Complex buses and other equipment are just as they were left a year ago.”

“However, the production materials piled up in front of this factory have disappeared to somewhere.” The footage on the left was shot in March 2016, some weeks after the closure of the KIC. The image on the right was shot on February 9.

“In contrast with the Kaesong Industrial Complex, it is easy to spot people moving around in the nearby villages.”

“In the area to the north of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, children are playing out on the water, which is frozen hard.”

“There are no vehicles on the road linking South Korea with the Kaesong Industrial Complex, and the Inter-Korean Transit Office (남북출입사무소) is closed.”

Source: “One year since Kaesong Industrial Complex suspension… and now? [개성공단 중단 1년…지금은?],” KBS News 9, February 9, 2017. Translation by Christopher Green.