April 18, 2013 09:27
North Korea rejected a request by South Korean businesspeople to visit the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex just north of the border to deliver food and daily necessities to remaining South Korean staff.
The Unification Ministry said a dozen South Korean businessmen had sought to deliver the supplies and tour the industrial park, where operations have been halted since North Korea closed the border on April 9.
South Korean officials had been closely watching North Korea's reaction to the request, hoping it would enable them to gauge the way the crisis is developing. Some hoped that the North would allow the businesspeople to enter on humanitarian grounds.
But instead the North blamed South Korea for the shutdown of the complex, which Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-seok called "incomprehensible."
Some 205 South Korean staff remain at the industrial park, most of them to protect the equipment and other assets of the 123 South Korean manufacturers operating there.
Their well-being is at risk now that food, medicine, fuel and other supplies have been blocked for two weeks.
North Korea on Sunday also rejected an offer of dialogue from President Park Geun-hye as a "cunning ploy" and has continued with vitriolic attacks, saying Tuesday that its decision to shut down operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex was "natural."
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