A gateway that leads to the Kaesong Industrial Complex is seen near Dorasan station in South Korea. North Korea froze all South Korea assets at the factory park in 2016. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 6 (UPI) -- North Korea acknowledged restarting operations in Kaesong, the former jointly operated factory park where South Korean firms employed North Korean laborers to produce consumer products.
Pyongyang's propaganda outlet Uriminzokkiri stated Friday the factories at Kaesong are "running with more vigor" than when South Korean managers oversaw production at the plants, South Korean television network JTBC reported.
"It is of no matter to anyone, what takes place in an industrial zone where the sovereign power of the [North Korean] republic is being exercised," North Korea stated. "The factories are running with more vigor."
The statement comes days after Radio Free Asia reported North Korea may have resumed production at garment factories, without consulting South Korea counterparts.
Sources had told RFA the 19 factories are producing clothing for export to China or for domestic consumption.
An official at Seoul's unification ministry said that if North Korea has resumed operations at the factory park, the action would constitute an "infringement of South Korean property rights," local news service Newsis reported.
"North Korea must not infringe on our property rights at [Kaesong] Industrial Complex," the unification ministry official said.
North Korea froze all South Korea assets in retaliation for a Seoul decision to shut down the complex in February 2016, and banned South Koreans from removing vehicles at the park.
About 100 vehicles, most likely trucks, had disappeared from the site, according to satellite imagery taken in August.
"All acts that infringe on the property rights of South Korean businesses must be stopped," the unification ministry official said.