2nd LD: S. Korea, DPRK to hold talks on Kaesong industrial zone next week

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South Korea and the Democratic People 's Republic of Korea (DPRK) agreed Thursday to hold talks about the operation of the cooperative Kaesong industrial zone next week, Seoul's unification ministry said.

The ministry said in a statement that the sixth round of joint management committee meeting for the Kaesong Industrial Complex would be held on July 16 at the DPRK's border town of Kaesong.

South Korea has urged the DPRK to have the joint management meeting to discuss ways of developing the factory park in a constructive manner, including issues on wage hike for DPRK workers, the ministry said.

Pyongyang responded Thursday to Seoul's dialogue offer. The two sides would comprehensively discuss issues on the Kaesong complex, the last remaining symbol of the economic cooperation.

The DPRK sent a separate notice Wednesday through the western military hot line, saying that it would tighten a traffic order within the industrial park. South Korea sent a reply saying that such issues should be resolved via the inter-Korean agreement.

The two sides have been in deadlock on the wage hike for DPRK workers in Kaesong. The row came after the DPRK revised labor regulations in November 2014 without consulting with South Korea and unilaterally notified its decision in late February.

Under the revision, the DPRK raised minimum wages for workers in Kaesong from 70.35 U.S. dollars to 74 dollars, topping the growth ceiling of 5 percent agreed upon by an inter-Korean agreement.

South Korea has called for the wage hike to be discussed through an inter-governmental dialogue, but the DPRK has claimed that it was a matter of internal affairs in which South Korea cannot intervene.

The Kaesong industrial zone, launched in late 2014 and jointly managed by the two sides, has been seen as one of the key symbols of inter-Korean economic cooperation. Some 120 South Korean companies employing about 53,000 DPRK workers are operating in the park. Endi

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