Have North Korean workers at Kaesong become corrupted?
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il is believed to have become increasingly wary of South Korean influence as filtered through Kaesong.
The 40,000 workers in the complex, have grown accustomed to South Korean “choco-pies,” instant coffee, cakes, and soups that South Korean managers serve with their lunches. Quite often they give them to friends and family members – an “invasion of the stomach,” say South Korean managers, that contributes to the image of South Korea as a rich society in contrast to their own poverty-stricken surroundings.
“Choe Sung-chul’s crime was bribery and corruption,” says Paik Sung-joo, director of the Korean Institute of Defense Analyses. “Now North Korea is afraid the North Korean workers and their families are corrupted.”
Oh, those insidious Choco Pies. They killed Patrice Lumumba and cause global warming, you know.
Before we bemoan the imminent loss of the Kaesong Choco Pie Superhighway, though, much of South Korea’s cultural influence in the North comes not via official inter-Korean projects like Kaesong and Kumgangsan, but via illegal trade across the Sino-Korean border:
According to the South Korean media, North Korean officials blamed Choe for making the North “dependent on South Korea.” But Ha Tae Keung, president of NK Open Radio, which broadcasts news into North Korea from Seoul, places little credence in these accounts.
The influence of South Korean culture and industry comes mainly via China, he notes, through shipments of DVDs, CDs, and other products, much of it in illegal trade across the Yalu and Tumen river borders.
Something to consider. Also worth considering is IF North Korean workers at Kaesong have become “corrupted,” what will the Northern authorities do with them if the complex closes?