Seoul Orders Last of Its Workers Out of North Korea

Kaesong Complex was once a symbol of North-South cooperation

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 26, 2013 6:54 AM CDT

(Newser) – Nearly three weeks after North Korea pulled its 53,000 workers from the Kaesong Industrial Complex—a jointly managed industrial park just inside the North Korean border—the South Korean government is ordering its remaining citizens out, reports the Wall Street Journal. Despite the virtual shutdown of the complex, one of the last symbols of North-South cooperation, about 175 South Koreans had remained behind to ensure North Korea would not unilaterally confiscate the goods and machinery left there. But the AP reports Seoul was worried about its workers not having access to food and medicine; North Korea hasn't allowed supplies or workers to cross the border since early this month.

Seoul had given Pyongyang 24 hours to agree to restarting talks, warning of serious consequences if the North said no, reports Voice of America. But the North let the deadline pass then issued a "no", along with a threat: If the South "pursues the worsening of the situation, we will be compelled to first take final and decisive grave measures," reads a statement issued today. "The government has made an inevitable decision to bring back home all of our citizens left behind in Kaesong for their protection," said South Korea's Unification Minister. "Their hardship is growing due to North Korea's unfair measures in Kaesong."

Kaesong industrial complex in North Korea is seen from near the border village of Panmunjom, that has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, on Wednesday, April 10, 2013.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
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