N. Korea Bars South's Workers From 'Last Symbol of Detente'

Workers turned back from border complex

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 3, 2013 2:47 AM CDT | Updated Apr 3, 2013 7:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – Some action from North Korea after weeks of harsh words: Pyongyang has blocked nearly 500 South Korean workers from entering a jointly run factory park just over the heavily armed border in the North today. As Reuters reports, the move to block South Koreans from going to their jobs at the Kaesong Industrial Park, dubbed the "last remaining symbol of detente" between the rivals by the AP, puts a vital source of revenue for the North at risk. As such, some South Korean experts believe the move could be a short-lived one.

And signs suggest the factories haven't been shuttered: Though the North has given the OK for the 861 South Koreans working in the zone to travel home, as of today fewer than 40 had done so, reports the New York Times. However, Reuters notes that the South transports all supplies to the complex, so food stocks could begin to dwindle. Entry to the park, which is home to 123 factories, was previously blocked three times in 2009, once for a three-day period. The move comes amid increasing hostility from Pyongyang, include yesterday's threat to restart its sole nuclear reactor.

South Korean vehicles turn back after being refused entry to Kaesong.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
South Korean army soldiers gesture to turn back vehicles as they were refused to enter to Kaesong, North Korea.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
In this Sept. 21, 2012 photo, North Korean workers assemble Western-style suits at the South Korean-run ShinWon Corp. garment factory inside the Kaesong industrial complex in Kaesong.   (AP Photo/Jean H. Lee)
South Koreans wait to leave for the North Korean city of Kaesong at the Inter Korea Transit Office in Paju, South Korea today.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
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