February 11, 2016 09:33
Seoul has decided to shut down the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex in retaliation for North Korea's rocket launch Sunday and its recent nuclear test.
The closure of the industrial park just north of the border will cost the regime millions of dollars that it siphons off workers' salaries.
"We've been trying to ensure that the Kaesong Industrial Complex meets international standards, but North Korea instead exploited our efforts," Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo told reporters Wednesday. "We've decided to completely suspend operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex to prevent our investment there from being used to develop nuclear warheads and missiles and we want to make sure our enterprises will not be victimized by Pyongyang."
Hong said Seoul notified Pyongyang of the decision and asked for cooperation in pulling out South Korean staff. The government plans to set up a task force to provide support to some 120 South Korean businesses that run factories there.
The government pledged to tap into a cross-border economic cooperation fund to help the businesses being forced to pull out and look for alternative plots of land for them to use. The government worries that the North could try to hold South Korean management and equipment hostage.
Some 184 South Koreans are based inside the complex. Any further South Koreans will be prohibited from entering it as of Thursday. "We will complete the withdrawal of the South Korean workforce as soon as possible," a Unification Ministry official said.
Hong said Seoul must take a "leading role" in international sanctions against the North. He added North Korea has earned a total of W616 billion in cash from the complex so far, and the suspicion is that the money went into the development of nuclear arms and missiles (US$1=W1,198).
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