S.Korean businessmen to visit Kaesong complex to discuss wage hike

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South Korean businessmen with factories in the Kaesong Industrial Complex will visit the inter- Korean factory park Tuesday to discuss the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s unilateral decision to hike wages for its workers there.

Unification Ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol told a press briefing Monday that a group of 13 South Korean businessmen, including Chung Ki-sup, chief of the council for South Korean firms operating factories in Kaesong, will travel to the zone Tuesday.

They will hold a meeting with other businessmen to discuss how to respond to the DPRK's February notification of its decision to raise minimum wages for DPRK workers in Kaesong from 70.35 U.S. dollars to 74 dollars starting from March. The new wage will be paid from April 10.

It was a 5.18 percent increase, surpassing the 5 percent ceiling that South Korea set as a guideline for an annual wage hike. Including social security contributions, average monthly wages for DPRK workers in Kaesong may total 164.1 U.S. dollars, up 5.53 percent from the current 155.5 U.S. dollars.

South Korea instructed companies in Kaesong not to raise wages, warning of an administrative penalty if the firms pay the increased wage.

Seoul said that Pyongyang should have decided upon the wage hike, topping 5 percent, together with the South Korean government in accordance with the existing agreement.

South Korea reportedly plans to make a formal proposal to the DPRK in the near future for discussing the wage hike issue.

The Kaesong industrial zone is the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean economic cooperation, where some 120 South Korean companies are operating factories and hiring about 53,000 DPRK workers. Endi

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