One of the (many) oddities of the relationship between North Korea and South Korea is the Kaesong industrial zone jointly operated by the two countries—and, until recently, its continued operation even amid escalating hostilities between the two nations.
North Korea shuttered the cooperative zone in April amid one of its periodic diplomatic tantrums, kicking out the 120-some South Korean businesses operating there and holding seven managers hostage until bills had been settled. But Kaesong, which once employed over 50,000 workers, has been a rare, vital source of hard currency to fund the North Korean regime. (Among other things, the North Koreans’ wages of about $57 per worker per month, totaling about $80 million a year, are paid directly to their government.)
Now, following a round of talks between the two countries, it’s scheduled to open again on Wednesday. The reopening could be rocky: Some of the South Korean managers say the factory equipment rusted during the rainy season, and is effectively useless at this point.
Here’s a look at some of the drama around Kaesong—and what it’s like inside.