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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Some S.Korean Workers Return Home from Joint Kaesong Complex

RIA Novosti

02:59 28/04/2013

MOSCOW, April 28 (RIA Novosti) - Some of South Korean workers returned home Saturday from a jointly run industrial site in North Korea, South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted Seoul officials as saying.

South Korea announced Friday that it decided to withdraw all workers from the Kaesong complex in North Korea after Pyongyang rejected its offer for dialog, the agency reported earlier. Officials said 11 employees returned home from Kaesong Saturday afternoon, adding that 116 more were due to follow later in the day.

On Friday, there were 175 South Koreans at the industrial site. After the return of 127 Saturday, the remaining workers could get home by Monday.

Seoul's decision to withdraw the employees, announced by South Korea's unification minister, Ryoo Kihl-jae, called into question the fate of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the last symbol of inter-Korean rapprochement established in 2004.

South Korea on Thursday proposed holding talks with North Korea over the joint complex that has been idle since the start of April amid growing inter-Korean tensions, Yonhap earlier reported.

North Korea has denied entry to Kaesong to South Korean workers, saying Seoul used the joint project to insult the North's leaders. South Korean nationals, who chose to remain at the site in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, are thought to have only small amounts of food and supplies left.

All operations at Kaesong were suspended on April 9, when Pyongyang pulled out all of its 53,000 staff working for the 123 South Korean companies. Six days before, the North banned South Korean personnel from entering the complex.

Tensions have risen sharply on the Korean Peninsula since December, when North Korea tested a long-range Taepodong 2 missile, and in February carried out its third nuclear test.

The UN responded with sanctions. The start of joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States last month further irritated the North, which threatened to carry out a nuclear attack on the US mainland, as well as on US forces in the region.

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