South and North Korea on Monday opened a joint body to coordinate in preventing another work stoppage at an inter-Korean factory zone that opened a fortnight ago after a five-month hiatus, the unification ministry said.
The permanent secretariat in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, staffed by both South and North Korean government officials, will assist the joint management committee tasked with running the business park, the ministry said.
This newly established steering committee gives Seoul an equal say as Pyongyang in the running of the complex, unlike in the past when the complex was run by a North Korean body, General Bureau for Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone.
Initially eight South Koreans and five North Korean officials will be assigned to the secretariat, it said.
In mid-August, Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to establish the secretariat as part of a landmark agreement that called for resuming operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which had been shut for four months. The pact included setting up of various safeguards to prevent non-economic developments from disrupting operations at the industrial complex that is symbol of detente and economic cooperation between the two sides.
All operations at the Kaesong were halted in early April after Pyongyang citing military and political provocations pulled out all of its 53,000 workers from the complex that is home to 123 South Korean factories.
Work resumed on Sept. 16 after long-drawn negotiations secured a pledge from the North that it will take no future action to halt operations.
The ministry in charge of overseeing all inter-Korean exchange, meanwhile, said the existing Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee, which had acted as the semi-official representative office for Seoul, will be maintained as an organization dedicated to helping businesses and their production activities.