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North Korea says South's pulling out of industrial zone 'declaration of war'

Friday, February 12, 2016 14:11
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(Before It's News)

Beijing: North Korea has ordered the expulsion of all South Korean nationals from the jointly-run Kaesong industrial complex, calling the South's move to suspend operations, in retaliation for Sunday's rocket launch by the North, a “declaration of war”.

As well as placing the Kaesong industrial complex – the last major symbol of cooperation between the divided nations – under military control, Pyongyang said it would sever communication with the South by cutting off two crucial cross-border hotlines.

Rising tension: South Korean protesters burn an effigy of North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un at a rally in Seoul on Thursday. Photo: Getty Images

“Unpardonable is the puppet group's act of totally suspending the operation in (Kaesong), finding fault with the DPRK's H-bomb test and launch of a satellite,” the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said, referring to South Korea.

Seoul's decision to suspend operations at Kaesong was among the more severe non-military sanctions at its disposal, reflecting the South's mounting desperation at an increasingly volatile North's refusal to heed international warnings to cease its weapons development program.

Combining South Korean capital and technology with the North's cheap labour, Kaesong is the last functioning remnant of the “Sunshine Policy” era of the early 2000s, where South Korea trialled economic cooperation with the North as a means to alleviate decades of political distrust from both sides.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has expelled South Korean workers at the Kaesong industrial zone as tension continues to rise. Photo: AP

Last year, 124 South Korean companies hired 54,000 North Korean workers to produce socks, wrist-watches and other goods worth about $500 million.

But last Sunday's long-range rocket test, coming off the back of a purported miniaturised hydrogen bomb test last month, prompted President Park Geun-hye to make the hardline decision, in the belief that the North Korean government had siphoned most of the $US560 million ($790 million) South Korea had paid to its workers since 2004 for use on its nuclear weapons and missile development.

North Korea described Seoul's shutdown as “an end to the last lifeline of the North-South relations”. A statement issued by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, a North Korean government agency in charge of relations with the South, denounced South Korean President Park Geun-hye as a “confrontational wicked woman” who lives upon “the groin of her American boss”.

Credit to Sydney Morning Herald
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