North Korea blocks workers from cross-border industrial park

North Korea on Wednesday stopped South Korean workers from crossing the border to their jobs in a joint industrial zone a few miles inside the isolated communist state — the latest turn in the ratchet of tension on the divided peninsula.

Pyongyang did not say how long the border would be closed, but it did say it would allow the more than 800 South Korean workers currently in the Kaesong zone to leave, and several did, according to local media reports.

SEE ALSO: ‘Reckless’ Kim Jong-un won’t be tolerated; Kerry strikes back at North Korean threats

Seoul’s Unification Ministry said many had opted voluntarily to stay in Kaesong to ensure the smooth operation of their companies there, according to Agence France Press. The workers manage dozens of factories and other light industrial enterprises in the zone, which uses North Korean labor. The zone is an important source of hard currency for Pyongyang, which garnishes almost half the workers’ wages, according to CNN.

South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-Jin said Seoul had contingency plans, including possible military action, to ensure the safety of its citizens in Kaesong, AFP reported.

“We should try to prevent the situation from going to the worst,” Mr. Kim added.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...

Latest Stories

Latest Blog Entries

blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks