Bankruptcy Fears Amid Icy Inter-Korean Ties

South Korean companies operating at a joint industrial estate in North Korea have said they face bankruptcy in many cases because of icy cross-border relations, Agence France-Presse reported. In a joint statement they demanded that the South Korean government improve ties with the North so that the Kaesong estate can run normally. The factory bosses also demanded that the communist North withdraw "unilateral and unacceptable" wage and rent demands, ease restrictions on border crossings and guarantee the safety of South Koreans working there. The North has since March 30 been detaining a South Korean employee accused of criticising its communist system and trying to persuade a local woman worker to defect. Kaesong opened in December 2004 as a symbol of reconciliation. Its future has become increasingly clouded as North-South relations have worsened and as the North's nuclear standoff with the outside world has intensified. Kim Hak-Kwon, president of the Corporate Council of Kaesong Industrial Complex, said many of the 105 South Korean firms face bankruptcy as orders slump because of political tension. Read more.