I'm going to reprint a short article on some efforts to expand the joint industrial zone between north and south Korea. Seems there is a lot of bipartisan unity on this issue. As Kotaji remarked in a comment to an earlier post, the prospect of economically integrating North Korea could be a boom for South Korean capital. In a climate where they no longer benefit from strategic finance they recieved during the past, the Chaebol are definitely pushing to have their obligations to workers restructured so as to save more on labour. However, Korean social movements have resisted this tendancy for the last 7 years, after witnessing what concessions on labour restructuring can bring in the wake of the 1997 crisis. Hence, over the last year we've seen several serious struggles not simply over the attempt to introduce national legislation expanding irregular work, but also policies like rice liberalisation which promise to expand the supply of workers migrating to the cities. Why not bypass these problems by creating special zones to harness the power of, potentially, a considerably more docile and politically repressed supply? I'm still not sure what the future may bring. It will depend on a number of factors such as the 6-party talks, NK's own strategy, the SK labour and student movement among others. At any rate, it seems for the moment SK wants to expand these zones (to 600,000 workers), the US aren't keen on the subject, and labour has so far been quiet (from what I can gander from the English press).
From the Korea Times:
Bill on Inter-Korean SEZ Pushed
By Lee Jin-wooStaff Reporter
Feb 13 2006
A group of 100 ruling and opposition party lawmakers Monday submitted a bill aimed at setting up an inter-Korean special economic zone near the heavily fortified border bisecting the two Koreas.
``The bill is based on a long-term strategy to construct a joint economic community which will mutually benefit both South and North Korea,’’ said Rep. Yim Tae-hee of the largest opposition Grand National Party (GNP).
Yim said, ``Invaluable lessons we learned from trials and errors of the Kaesong industrial complex in the North will surely help us carry out the plan successfully and further promote inter-Korean relations.’’
The lawmakers who signed the bill include 16 legislators from the ruling Uri Party, 76 from the GNP and 4 from the minor opposition Democratic Party (DP).
As an initial, short-term step, the bill aims to establish the envisioned industrial zone, which is similar to the Kaesong complex, in Paju, Kyonggi Province, located near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Yim said in a press release.
In the bill, the lawmakers also proposed to jointly expand the boundary of the economic cooperative area from the port city of Haeju in South Hwanghae Province, North Korea, to Inchon, west of Seoul.
They called for the establishment of a government agency to encourage certain industries, including tourism and information-technology, and environmentally friendly businesses with various benefits in the designated area.
The lawmakers said they target to complete the legislation of the bill in the first half of this year.
The bill said the establishment of the economic zone will help ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula and provide a chance for North Korea to learn about the market economy.