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Economy

North Korea suspected of restarting industrial complex

Kaesong facility was shut by the South last year to cut off funds to regime

SEOUL -- North Korea hinted Friday that it has resumed operations at an industrial park it shared with South Korea, more than a year after Seoul closed the complex as part of unilateral sanctions.

The Kaesong industrial site is located inside North Korea just across the demilitarized zone that separates the country from South Korea.

The regime said what it does at Kaesong is nobody's business, according to a posting on the propaganda website Meari. The contents were reported by the Tokyo-based Korea News Service.

U.S.-backed Radio Free Asia cited an informed source in China who said 19 clothing factories in Kaesong were put into operation. The source also said curtains were ordered placed over windows to hide lights inside and evade detection.

North Korean media said the purpose is to improve the livelihood of the people. The complex has been in operation for at least six months, with the aim of manufacturing clothing for export, according to Radio Free Asia.

However, textile exports are subject to tough new United Nations sanctions approved last month. The regime could therefore be using the industrial park to make apparel for domestic consumption.

Run by South Korean corporations, the complex served as the hallmark of inter-Korean economic cooperation, employing tens of thousands of North Korean laborers. The site produced over $500 million worth of estimated output before the shutdown.

However, Kaesong also served as a major source of foreign currency for the reclusive state. Seoul shuttered the site in February 2016 amid criticism that Pyongyang was using proceeds to fund its nuclear and ballistic missile program.

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