A former Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) businessman attempted suicide on Tuesday by swallowing sleeping pills, local media reported on Wednesday.
Identified only by his surname Yang, the KIC entrepreneur survived but was hospitalized in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province. Yang has reportedly since left the hospital and returned home.
Yang is one of many South Koreans to have lost their businesses at the KIC when North Korea seized all assets at the complex, after Seoul’s decision in early February to pull all staff from the KIC in protest over the North’s fourth nuclear test in January and satellite launch a few weeks later.
“This is just the beginning,” Choi Jae-ho, the former chief of a KIC clothing company told NK News.
“In a month or two more people will be under financial pressure and we can’t tell if the situation will get better. This was not supposed to happen.”
The exact time line of the incident could not be confirmed as Yang’s family refused to answer questions from the media. But Choi In-sook, a former Kaesong employee and close acquaintance to Yang shared a rough outline of the incident.
“Since Yang has lost his business, other businesses have constantly been calling upon him about his debts.”
Choi said that Yang had been suffering from serious depression throughout the whole day prior to his suicide attempt.
“On Tuesday around 8 p.m. he asked his wife to leave him alone in his lodging in Ansan. After she left, Yang took several sleeping pills at once and called his daughter.”
During the phone call with her father, Yang’s daughter felt that something was not quite right about her father, leading her to phone her mother – who was leaving Yang’s lodging – and thus saving his life.
According to other local media, Yang was running a cafeteria business inside the KIC, as well as supplying food materials to companies in the complex. Yang was the employer of six South Korean nationals and 15 North Korean employees, and was gravely affected by the recent closure as all the businesses he owned were in Kaesong.
The Ministry of Unification (MoU) has been making efforts to provide aid packages to South Korean KIC workers and business owners for the financial damage incurred since the closure.
On Wednesday, the government’s policy brief read that the ministry will provide up to 650,000 won (about $550) to the companies so that they can continue to have their employees maintain jobs, in addition to the previously agreed unemployment benefits of 1.3 million won (about $ 1,100).
The allowance can be applied for up to six months to those who are officially hired by the company, including those who are under the leave of absence or cessation of work.
However, two former employees both said they are not satisfied with the government’s effort yet.
“They already discussed the 650,000-won allowance on March 15; why are they announcing this as if it were something new to us?” said Choi Jae-ho.
“We don’t need such money from the government; all we want is a guarantee to provide two years of wages and we can resolve this matter,” said Choi In-sook.
Featured image: KIC, fta.go.kr
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