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, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.