SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A German company became the first foreign firm to start building a plant inside a joint inter-Korean factory complex in North Korea.
Auto parts maker Prettl broke ground Wednesday on the facility. It aims to open the factory by December and hire about 550 North Korean workers, said Kim Min-kyung, an official at the Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee.
The committee said in a statement that Prettl Chairman Rolf Prettl attended the ceremony. Prettl has 16 branches worldwide, including in South Korea, according to the statement.
The Kaesong Industrial Complex, just north of the demilitarized zone bisecting the two Koreas, is a key reconciliation project taken up by the divided nations following their leaders' first summit in 2000.
The Koreas agreed to expand the complex during their second summit last year.
Two Chinese companies also signed contracts last year to run factories in the area but have not started construction, Kim said.
''Prettl's entry will increase international confidence in the Kaesong park, thus making a great contribution to drawing in foreign investment,'' Shin Un-sang, the committee chairman, said in a statement.
A total of 69 South Korean companies are currently operating in the zone, employing some 23,220 North Korean laborers, according to the management committee.
Many companies from France, Spain and other European countries have showed interest in running factories in the area, Kim said.