March 28, 2013 09:30
North Korea on Wednesday severed a military hotline with South Korea used to ensure the safety of personnel commuting to and from the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex.
The move came as the South Korean government proposed inviting international investment to the Kaesong complex as part of efforts to build trust with North Korea.
The North's official KCNA news agency said Pyongyang sent a message to the Seoul at 11:20 a.m., quoting the head of the North Korean delegation to the cross-border military talks as saying, "I, upon authorization, inform the South side that the North-South military communications will be cut off and the members of the North side at the military communications liaison office in the zone under the control of the North and the South in the west coastal area will stop their activities from this moment."
That severs all military communication between Seoul and Pyongyang.
The hotline was used to notify the North of any planned movement of people and vehicles to the Kaesong complex, which sits just north of the Demilitarized Zone, and was set up in 2006 to prevent accidental clashes.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Unification Ministry told President Park Geun-hye of plans to globalize the Kaesong industrial park. The plan entails getting products manufactured there recognized as South Korean-made and trying to attract U.S. and Chinese investment.
Park said North Korea would find it more difficult to unilaterally halt operations at the industrial park or hike taxes and surcharges if Kaesong attracts more foreign investors and buyers.
The Kaesong complex was allowed to stay open despite sanctions against Pyongyang by the Lee Myung-bak administration in the wake of North Korea's sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan in 2010.
Experts warned that the Unification Ministry is approaching the North from the wrong angle at a time when Pyongyang is ratcheting up tensions.
"It is more important at this point to send a warning to North Korea rather than announcing plans to globalize the Kaesong Industrial Complex," said Cho Young-ki of Korea University.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com