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Management article
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Reference no. R1010X
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review", 2010

Abstract

For teaching purposes, this is the case-only version of the HBR case study. The CEO of a watchband manufacturer based in Seoul is considering opening a factory in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), a South Korean manufacturing zone in North Korea. Such an operation is appealing on several counts: The costs of labor are low, capital risk is also low because of South Korean government guarantees, and the KIC, as the largest area of economic cooperation between the two Koreas, could be a step toward a unified peninsula. But there are substantial risks as well, concerning South Korean employees' safety, the treatment of North Korean workers by their government, the human rights situation generally in the North, and the uncertainties of dealing with a volatile regime. Are the potential economic benefits worth the human risks? And should politics and national pride factor into the decision?
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Abstract

For teaching purposes, this is the case-only version of the HBR case study. The CEO of a watchband manufacturer based in Seoul is considering opening a factory in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), a South Korean manufacturing zone in North Korea. Such an operation is appealing on several counts: The costs of labor are low, capital risk is also low because of South Korean government guarantees, and the KIC, as the largest area of economic cooperation between the two Koreas, could be a step toward a unified peninsula. But there are substantial risks as well, concerning South Korean employees' safety, the treatment of North Korean workers by their government, the human rights situation generally in the North, and the uncertainties of dealing with a volatile regime. Are the potential economic benefits worth the human risks? And should politics and national pride factor into the decision?

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