S. Korea reduces water supply to the North

March 16, 2015
North Korean employees work at a factory at the industrial complex in the North's border town of Kaesong. The joint factory park reopened earlier in the day, more than five months after it was shut down amid rising tensions across the border of the two Koreas.

North Korean employees work at a factory at the industrial complex in the North’s border town of Kaesong. The joint factory park reopened earlier in the day, more than five months after it was shut down amid rising tensions across the border of the two Koreas.

By Yi Whan-woo

South Korea has reduced its free supply of water to Kaesong Industrial Complex (GIC) since December, according to the government, Sunday.

The Ministry of Unification said the amount of water provided to the inter-Korean industrial park in North Korea’s border city of Kaesong has dropped to 5,000 tons a day, down from 7,000 tons.

It added that Seoul has reduced its free water supply to Kaesong for civic purposes by 5,000 tons a day to 10,000 tons a day since December.

This supply of water comes through a water purification and sewage treatment facility near a reservoir at the GIC, the unification ministry said.

The Kaeseong Industrial District Foundation in Seoul has decided to reduce the supply that was used to cope with a drought that hit North Korea last year, according to the government.

It said the foundation is the de-facto management body of the GIC in coordination with the unification ministry.

“North Korea suffered a severe drought in 2014 and the amount of water stored in the reservoir at the GIC has been drying up,” unification ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol said. The reservoir is the only source of water at the GIC and nearby region.

“It was inevitable to cut back the water supply and Pyongyang fully understands what led us to make such a decision.

“In case of Kaseong, we’ve been providing water for its 300,000 citizens since 2007 because North Korea lacks civic infrastructure and asked us for support.”

The news comes amid recent disputes between Seoul and Pyongyang over the minimum wage at the GIC, fueling speculation that such issues could worsen frayed inter-Korean ties.

On Friday, the unification ministry protested against Pyongyang’s unilateral decision in February to raise the minimum wage for its workers at the GIC from $70.35 to $74 starting this month.

Back then, the impoverished regime also said it would collect 15 percent of the basic wage plus overtime payment as “social security.” The South Korean firms have been paying 15 percent of the basic wage alone.

North Korea is anticipated to earn $450,000 in additional revenue from the Kaesong with its measures, according to the unification ministry.

Some 53,000 North Korean workers are employed by 124 South Korean companies, mostly small and medium-sized enterprises at the GIC that began operations in 2004 as part of inter-Korean reconciliatory efforts.

On Thursday, North Korea claimed the wage hike decision is a legitimate measure under its sovereignty.

7 Comments

  1. Pingback: S. Korea reduces water supply to the North | NA Institute

  2. John Titor

    March 16, 2015 at 11:32 PM

    I just hope that not many common folk are affected by this. It’s always the common folk that take the hit. smh

    • john!

      March 17, 2015 at 12:29 AM

      John where have you been!

  3. dee

    March 16, 2015 at 11:47 PM

    Omg John! You’ve come back!!! I’ve got so many questions

  4. Kim Cheon

    March 16, 2015 at 11:53 PM

    N. Korea is strapped for cash if they need to steal a paltry 475k from its workers. It’s less than what 작은 만두 spends of butter cookies alone.

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  6. henry

    March 17, 2015 at 1:25 AM

    Here once again is the need for the powers that be to call for the unification of the north and south.
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