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Chinese cosmetics company to join inter-Korean industrial zone

Chinese cosmetics company to join inter-Korean industrial zone

A Chinese manufacturer has become the first foreign company to sign a contract to open a factory in an inter-Korean industrial complex in North Korea, a developer said Tuesday.
Dashing Diva Corp., the South Korean arm of Chinese artificial nail and cosmetics maker Tianjin JCI Cosmetic Corp., signed a contract Monday for a parcel of land in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, said Korea Land Corp. official Belle Kim.
The Kaesong Industrial Complex, which began operations in 2004, is one of the most prominent symbols of inter-Korean reconciliation to have come out of a summit between North and South Korea in 2000.
The complex, located in the city of Kaesong just across the border from South Korea, combines South Korean capital and managerial know-how with abundant and cheap North Korean labor.
According to South Korea's Unification Ministry, 26 companies currently operate there, employing 14,000 North Koreans as factory workers. Another 3,000 North Koreans work on construction projects in the zone.
South Korean companies Korea Land and Hyundai Asan Corp. are co-developers of the Kaesong zone, with backing from the Unification Ministry.
Seoul envisioned the complex as encouraging isolated North Korea to reform its centrally controlled economy and gradually open up to the outside world so as to help lessen the huge gap in living standards between the communist North and capitalist South with an eye on eventual unification.
Korea Land's Kim said the developer has set aside a special section in the zone consisting of six lots of land for use by foreign companies.
She had no details on when Dashing Diva planned to begin operating or how many North Koreans it would employ, but said it was the first foreign company to sign a contract to enter the zone.
Kim said the contract calls for the company to pay about 258 million won (US$274,500; euro201,000), which will give it the right to use land, totaling about 5,700 sq. meters (61,354 sq. feet), for 50 years.
Kim said that any foreign company wishing to enter the zone must first have a presence in South Korea.
China and North Korea, longtime political allies, also have close economic relations with Chinese forming the biggest group of foreign investors in the country. The two countries are also cooperating in resource development.
Separately, a U.S. lawmaker visiting South Korea reportedly criticized efforts to expand the complex.
"To me, the answer is that it's strengthening the North Korean regime and its abusive practices, and I wish South Korea was not so enthusiastic about expanding this site," Edward Royce, a Republican Congressman from California, said at a parliamentary forum on South Korea-U.S. relations held at South Korea's National Assembly, Yonhap news agency reported.
Royce could not immediately be reached for comment.