News / Asia

South Korea Calling Home Remaining Managers at Kaesong Complex

A North Korean guard post (bottom, C) is pictured from the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, north of Seoul, as the Kaesong inter-Korean industrial complex is seen in the background. (2011 File)A North Korean guard post (bottom, C) is pictured from the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, north of Seoul, as the Kaesong inter-Korean industrial complex is seen in the background. (2011 File)
x
A North Korean guard post (bottom, C) is pictured from the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, north of Seoul, as the Kaesong inter-Korean industrial complex is seen in the background. (2011 File)
A North Korean guard post (bottom, C) is pictured from the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, north of Seoul, as the Kaesong inter-Korean industrial complex is seen in the background. (2011 File)
The only remaining economic link between the two Koreas, already on the edge of falling apart, further frazzled on Friday. South Korea is recommending its remaining citizens at the idled Kaesong industrial complex in the North return home.
 
The top government official in Seoul charged with handling North-South relations said the time has come for South Koreans remaining at the Kaesong factory zone to return home.
 
Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said the government has made an "unavoidable decision" for everyone remaining at the complex to return for their protection because of North Korea's "unfair measures which created difficulties for South Korean citizens still there."
 
Ryoo also is calling for North Korea to ensure the safe passage of the South Koreans out of Kaesong and to protect their equipment and property that will remain at the complex.
 
South Korea's president, Park Geun-hye - meeting earlier in the day with her security-related ministers - questioned how much longer they should wait for a resolution to the issue of the idled Kaesong industrial zone.
 
The president said the prolonged suspension, due to North Korea's action, is taking a heavy toll on South Korean companies and the people there who have not been able to be resupplied with food and materials since April 3.

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Turf Institute of the Bioengineering Branch under the State Academy of Sciences in Pyongyang. (KCNA)
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a construction site of the North Korean army, May 7, 2013. (KCNA)
  • South Korean protesters wear masks of U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye during a rally denouncing their policy toward North Korea near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, May 6, 2013.
  • South Korean vehicles returning from North Korea's Kaesong arrive at the customs, immigration and quarantine office near the border village of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, April 30, 2013.
  • A South Korean vehicle loaded with goods from North Korea's Kaesong arrives at the customs, immigration and quarantine office near the border village of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, April 30, 2013.
  • A TV reporter prepares for a news report in front of an empty gate at the customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) office in Paju, South Korea, April 29, 2013.
  • An open gate at a military checkpoint of the inter-Korean transit office in the border city of Paju on April 29, 2013.
  • Media wait for South Koreans returning home from North Korea's Kaesong at the customs office near the border village of Panmunjom that separates the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, April 29, 2013.

Seoul on Thursday had given Pyongyang little more than 24 hours to respond to an offer of official talks on the fate of their joint venture. Otherwise, the government warned, it would take significant measures regarding the complex, located just north of the border.
 
Two hours after Friday's deadline passed, Pyongyang rebuffed Seoul's offer of talks as "fraudulent," declaring any further ultimatums from South Korean officials will lead to "their final destruction."
 
The statement is in the name of a spokesman for the policy department of North Korea's national defense commission.
 
The commission is the highest-level state organ whose first chairman is the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.
 
An announcer on the central broadcasting station in Pyongyang read the 10-minute long statement, which informed Seoul that if it is so anxious about the safety of the South Koreans remaining at the complex, then it should withdraw them and the North "will take necessary humanitarian measures to guarantee their safety."
 
The announcer, also quoting the spokesman, concludes with a warning that if South Korean authorities continue to aggravate the situation, the North will take "final and decisive significant measures" before the South can enact their threatened "significant measures."
 
The Kaesong industrial zone is primarily composed of small textile factories, operated by South Koreans.
 
During normal operations at Kaesong about 800 South Korean managers of more than 120 factories supervised 53,000 North Korean workers.
 
Officials say 176 South Koreans and one Chinese national remained inside the complex as of Friday afternoon.
 
The Kaesong project, opened in 2004 during the South's "Sunshine Policy" of engagement with the North, was hailed as a hallmark of cooperation between the two Koreas, which lack diplomatic relations and have technically remained at war since the early 1950s.
 
In exchange for cheap labor, the impoverished and isolated North gained a significant source of hard currency from Kaesong. The bulk of the workers' salaries was retained by the North Korean government.
 
North Korea, nearly three weeks ago, pulled out its workers from the complex and prohibited fresh supplies to Kaesong from the South.
 
North Korea said it took the action to protest Seoul using the project to insult Pyongyang's leadership.
 
The impasse over Kaesong comes amid sharply rising tension on the Korean peninsula.
 
North Korea has in recent weeks warned of imminent warfare, contending joint military drills between South Korea and the United States are a prelude to an invasion.
 
Although North Korea frequently makes such claims when Seoul and Washington conduct their annual war games, this year Pyongyang issued unprecedented and specific warnings, including that it would conduct a preemptive nuclear strike against the United States.
 
North Korea's ballistic missile and atomic weapons development, which continues in defiance of U.N. sanctions, is of high concern to the international community. Most defense analysts do not believe Pyongyang yet has the capability to deploy a miniaturized nuclear warhead atop a multi-stage rocket.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Georhe Hilbert
April 26, 2013 8:58 PM
"...South's "Sunshine Policy"..." Is this anything like Hope and Change? Seems like there is sunshine shining out of somewhere in both.


by: danR from: Vancouver
April 26, 2013 2:38 PM
Pyongyang wants it all; Kaesong is a whatever as far as they're concerned. Obama plays a pretty good Neville Chamberlain.

Two intelligence briefings this month that need more air-time:

1. N.K. options for nuclear delivery are not restricted to missiles; the report mentioned 'unconventional' means, something I've been hammering away at for at least a year now.
2. N.K. leapfrogging development stages to arrive at compact nukes: this is a plausible alternative explanation for the long test intervals since 2006; that Pyongyang is not lacking ability, they are being very careful. In a sense they are N.K.'s dark-side version of Samsung.

For that reason, I don't hold your option (2) as an option: between clandestine delivery and compact nukes, estimated uranium bombs potential and 6-8 plutonium weapons current capacity, a huge storehouse of chemical reserves, the time has come for a first strike on Kim&Co., preferably in the May-July window. Any later would increase the suffering through 2013-14 Winter.

N.K. does not 'want' war, they want Korea. All of it. If war is needed for that objective, they will try it.

In Response

by: danR from: Vancouver
April 26, 2013 4:45 PM
"I don't hold your option (2) as an option..."

Sorry, this was in reply to an article elsewhere.


by: John C. Kimbrough from: Brooklyn, New York
April 26, 2013 7:44 AM
There is and has always been much animosity between various regions and countries in Asia. There always will be. Even within South Korea there has been negative feelings to people from other regions within the country. This is true to some extent within all of the countries of Asia. Things are made more complicated and complex because Buddhism has been weakened and corrupted by materialism and consumerism, and individual men set themselves up as being iconic and godlike figures. It seems that Korea would be better off if it was one country, but then Japan and China would feel threatened in some way. Nationalism and the tendency to look down on other countries, nationalities and ethnic groups just makes things worse. Countries, cultures, societies and people who feel such a way are condemned to future suffering........


by: ramalingam venkatraju from: india coimbatore 1
April 26, 2013 7:38 AM
Why stil no exchange of Bombs, just shows, going on, both decided to explore the nuclear, bio-chemical bombs, just start tigers let rest of the world see them, and U.S, also sell bombs to rest of the world, to make their nation stable.


by: Linda from: Australia
April 26, 2013 7:27 AM
I also want to know why other people are not concerned about this issue and no letting their voice be heard?


by: TONE from: USA
April 26, 2013 7:22 AM
I think it is time to clean house over there.

In Response

by: danR from: Vancouver
April 26, 2013 2:40 PM
Time to clean Kim's clock. His ticking time-bomb, let's say.


by: John from: Calif
April 26, 2013 7:20 AM
N. Korea....what a pathetic government who constantly shoots itself in the foot. A little chubby boy throwing his tantrum as the world laughs at his mentality.


by: Linda from: Australia
April 26, 2013 7:19 AM
I have been following the explosive situation on the Korean peninsular for months as have hundreds of thousands other concerned citizens of the world. As well as, keeping up with the the North Korean 'Rodong Sinmum' North Korean Website . Enough is enough they can not hold the world to ransom any longer over a nuclear strike, as a mother and citizen of this world the only way it seems to me to stop a bully is call their bluff. Their way of thinking is that they are isolated and they can do whatever is best for their country but hey! Thats not the way the world is anymore we are global, what happens 3,000 miles away effects us.

We only have one planet and each of us are only given one life. This bellicose rhetoric of damaging the security and mental health of lives of people who want to just give their families a good life who are non-political who trust their leaders just want the Korean, USA and allies to come to an agreement or let the chips fall where they should. The north Korean people are not to blame they are a impoverished people are feed a daily diet of hero worship about their leader and have little or no knowledge of the outside world. But guess what the world is out here and we have the same feelings and aspirations in life. North Korea needs to back down on their nuclear build up for protection and threats and understand the old ways of their ancestors are as dead as their bones. One planet one life.


by: John Livingston from: Fort Worth Texas
April 26, 2013 7:13 AM
Greed gone awry, the south built a complex in the north to take advantage of slave labor. The government retains most of the workers wages, that is ridiculous for a democratic government to support in the name of profit, I wish it would start happening to more American companies who are doing the same thing by using Chinese labor camps. Apple via Foxxcon.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid