Court rules 2016 shutdown of Kaesong Industrial Complex constitutional

SEOUL, Jan. 27 (Yonhap) — The Constitutional Court ruled Thursday the government’s 2016 shutdown of an inter-Korean industrial complex in North Korea’s border city of Kaesong was constitutional, dismissing a suit filed by protesting South Koreans who operate factories there.

Shortly after North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test and a long-range missile test, the then Park Geun-hye government suspended the operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, seen as a cash cow for the North Korean regime, in February 2016.

Businesspeople with factories in the complex filed the suit claiming their property rights were violated.

“Even though fair compensation has not been paid … the shutdown could not be seen as infringing the claimants’ property rights in violation of the Constitution,” the court said.

The court noted the measure was inevitably taken to protect the lives of South Koreans working in the factory park and was also in line with the international community’s economic sanctions aimed at stopping the North’s nuclear weapons development.

“It is clear the suspension of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a key inter-Korean economic cooperative project, could serve as an economic sanction against the North,” the court added.

This file image shows the Kaesong Industrial Complex, seen from the South Korean side. (Yonhap)