Two Koreas to hold talks on industrial park wage issues

 A committee running a joint industrial park between North Korea and South Korea will next week hold a meeting to resolve a wage dispute after Pyongyang unilaterally decided to hike the minimum wage, Seoul`s ministry of unification said on Thursday.

Seoul: A committee running a joint industrial park between North Korea and South Korea will next week hold a meeting to resolve a wage dispute after Pyongyang unilaterally decided to hike the minimum wage, Seoul`s ministry of unification said on Thursday.

"The committee will hold the sixth round of talks on July 16 at the Kaesong Industrial Complex," South Korea`s Yonhap news agency quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.

Seoul and Pyongyang have been embroiled in a wage dispute after North Korea unilaterally decided in February this year to hike the minimum wage by 5.18 percent to $74 per month for about 53,000 North Korean workers at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, located 10 km north of the Korean demilitarised zone.

The industrial park allows 123 South Korean companies to employ cheap North Korean labour that is educated, skilled and fluent in Korean, while providing North Korea with an important source of foreign currency.

The wages of the North Korean workers, totalling $90 million each year, is paid directly to the North Korean government.

The park, which began operating in 2004, is considered the last functioning symbol of inter-Korean cooperation. Despite the wage row, $186 million worth of goods were produced at the industrial park from January to April this year, a rise of about 25 percent from the previous year, according to the ministry of unification.

In 2013, a joint committee was set up following North Korea`s unilateral move that shut down the park for about four months. The committee is an integral part of a deal that called for reopening the complex and adopting safeguards to prevent any work stoppages in the future.

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