Kaesong Industrial Zone Stops as Workers Fail to Come
MOSCOW, April 9 (RIA Novosti) - About 53,000 North Korean workers failed to turn up at work on Tuesday at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, effectively stopping production at one of the few remaining points of cooperation between Seoul and Pyongyang, the Yonhap news agency reported.
Pyongyang announced on Monday it would withdraw all of its employees from the industrial zone which it runs jointly with its southern neighbor. The move was in protest against what it called "provocations" by the South. North Korea also claimed that Seoul was using Kaesong to find a pretext for fuelling tensions.
According to a Unification Ministry source, North Korean workers did not report to work and buses to take the workers to their workplaces have been cancelled.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye described the move as 'very disappointing.'
'If North Korea breaches international regulations and promises like this, there will be no countries or companies that would make investments in North Korea,' Yonhap quoted the president as saying. 'North Korea should halt wrong behavior and make the right choice for the sake of the entire future of the Korean people.'
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se warned North Korea about "deeper isolation."
'North Korea, instead of developing missiles and weapons of mass destruction, must take care of its people first, who are suffering from the hardships of want, poverty and destitution,' the minister said. 'The international community, including Korea, stands ready to help, should North Korea make the right choice.'
Last week, North Korean authorities banned South Korean specialists from entering the zone, but said that South Koreans already there are free to leave it. Out of 800 South Koreans working in the zone, about 475 remained there, including 77 who are to leave during the day.
Production at Kaesong started in late 2004. The zone, located some 12 km from the demarcation line between the North and the South, houses 123 small and medium-sized South Korean enterprises that employ 53,000 North Koreans. The companies produce $40 million worth of goods every month and pay $87 million per year in salaries.
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