Night Watch

South Korea-North Korea: South Korean personnel and North Korean workers returned to work at the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) this morning.

Business owners spent the day checking machinery and facilities that have been idle since their shutdown by North Korean government order on 3 April. Work is expected to continue over the Chuseok holiday (i.e., the Korean harvest festival), which runs from Wednesday to Friday this week.

Some business owners said they expect it to take many months before production returns to normal. Firms working in textile and clothing industries are expected to require less timethan those in electronics and machinery sectors.

Comment:The two immediate problems are the North Korean work force and getting new orders. One company owner said, "We have received notice from the North that 10% of workers will not be returning as they have married, retired, or passed away." Work at Kaesong is highly prized because it is well paid by North Korean standards. Workers have to pay bribes to local communist party bosses to get the necessary permits to work there. Most businesses are counting on the return of the previously trained workers to keep costs down.

Rebuilding the customer base will require communications outside North Korea. That is another significant challenge because of North Korean restrictions on internet and phone service. Nevertheless, leaders in both countries seem to want the complex to become profitable again and that is essential for success.

Syria-UN: The report of the UN investigators found, "On the basis of the evidence obtained during the investigation of the Ghouta incident, the conclusion is that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic, also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale."

"In particular, the environmental, chemical and medical samples we have collected provide clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used," it said.

Comment: The methods and techniques described in the report appear careful and professional. One problem is the size of the samples really do not support the sweeping conclusions repeated above. Another is the lack of sufficient time for the investigators to do much more. A third is the security conditions that prevented wider travel. They acknowledge these limitations in the appendices.


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