South Korea sharply reduces power supply to Gaeseong

Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - South Korea has not disconnected the power to Gaeseong but reduced supplies to a "minimum level" in line with the suspension of the joint industrial park, officials said Monday.

The Korea Electric Power Corp. had transmitted 30 to 50 megawatts of electricity to a 100-megawatt plant inside the district via a substation in Paju, Gyeonggi Province.

The state-run utility was forecast to turn off the power and linked water supplies after the last seven South Koreans came home last Friday, effectively vacating the factory zone for the first time since its 2003 launch.

But it has sharply trimmed its supplies to around 3 megawatts a day instead, in an apparent effort to prepare for a future normalization of the complex.

"We're sending the minimum amount (of electricity)," Unification Ministry spokesperson Kim Hyung-suk told a news briefing, citing lighting and other uses.

"The most normal way is to have workers there for maintenance but as you know all KEPCO officials have returned home. Yet I understand that there is no decisive physical obstacle for electricity to flow through."

Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said that the power reduction was applied starting on April 27, a day after the agency decided to pull out all its citizens from the border city as Pyongyang rejected its offer of talks to break the standoff.

"The industrial park has not been in normal operation for about a month. There is no need for a large amount of electricity so we decreased it using the distribution system, not the transmission network," he told a parliamentary session.

A KEPCO official said the current supplies are sufficient to concurrently light up office buildings in the complex and run water facilities nearby, or to power some 3,000 households.

Resenting the mushrooming losses of the factories, Kim once again urged Pyongyang to accept calls for dialogue and solve the dispute.

The North's state media reiterated its demand on Sunday that the South first stop "hostile acts" and military drills with the U.S. before putting Gaeseong back on track.

"The government's position remains unchanged that North Korea should come forward and resolve the Gaeseong problem through dialogue, rather than continuing to make unjust claims," Kim added.

Losses for the factories have been snowballing since Pyongyang barred the entry of South Korean employees and cargo on April 4 and withdrew its 53,000 employees on April 9.

The suspension followed a weeks-long torrent of North Korean military threats since South Korea and the U.S. began military drills and the U.N. levied sanctions last month over a nuclear test.

  • Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report 26 minutes ago
    Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report

    Here are today’s top trending stories in case you missed them.

  • Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day 11 hours ago
    Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day

    If there's one car that's particularly sought-after among today's well-heeled car collectors, a Ferrari 250 would be it. Usually it's the GTO variant, like the 1963 that sold for a record $52 million last year. A 250 of any sorts demands unfathomable cash, however, which is why we can but gawk at this 250 Testa Rossa. It's as close as any mere mortal will ever come to owning one.

  • Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners 12 hours ago
    Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners

    Buyers of Ferraris or Jaguars are used to perks from manufacturers – including racetrack lessons to help master their exotic machines. But for enthusiasts on a tighter budget, the Ford ST Octane Academy might be the sweetest deal in motoring: Buy a Ford Fiesta ST or Focus ST hatchback, and the reward is a free day of training at one of America’s longest, most-lavish road courses.

  • David Moyes statement after Man United firing
    David Moyes statement after Man United firing

    Statement released by David Moyes on Wednesday, a day after Manchester United announced he left as manager after less than a season in charge.

  • Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia
    Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia

    Armed pirates boarded a Singapore-managed oil tanker in the Strait of Malacca, kidnapping three Indonesian crew and stealing some of the vessel's shipment of diesel fuel, the International Maritime Bureau said Wednesday. The attack occurred early Tuesday off Malaysia's west coast, said Noel Choong, head of IMB's Kuala Lumpur-based piracy reporting centre. The diesel oil tanker was believed to be en route to Myanmar. "IMB is aware of the attack on the Singapore-managed ship in the Malacca Straits.

  • Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake
    Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's military commander said critics who called him out for wearing an especially luxurious watch should be quiet because the timepiece is actually a cheap Chinese fake.