SEOUL. — The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on Thursday decided to shut down the jointly-run factory park with South Korea, just a day after Seoul’s announcement to stop operations at the industrial zone in the DPRK’s border city of Kaesong.
A statement from the DPRK’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said the DPRK will deport all of South Koreans staying at the Kaesong Industrial Complex by 5:30 p.m. local time.
Declaring the Kaesong Industrial Complex a military-controled area, the DPRK decided to shut down the factory park, which first started manufacturing products in December 2004, and to withdraw all of some 54 000 DPRK workers from there.
The shutdown came after South Korea said Wednesday that it will close off business at the industrial park as part of punitive measures toward Pyongyang for its long-range rocket launch on Sunday. The launch came about a month after its fourth nuclear test on January 6.
A long stretch of large trucks from South Korean companies having run factories in Kaesong crossed the border on Thursday into the industrial zone to bring back products and materials there.
The DPRK, however, said all assets of South Korean companies and relevant agencies, including equipment, materials and products, at the jointly-run factory park will be frozen completely. The deported South Koreans are allowed to fetch only personal items, and the frozen assets will be managed by a DPRK committee, according to the statement.
Seoul’s unification ministry in charge of inter-Korean affairs said it will make best efforts to help all of South Koreans return home from the Kaesong complex. Hundreds of South Koreans have stayed there to complete the shutdown of factories.
At the Kaesong industrial zone, the result of a historic inter-Korean summit between late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and late DPRK leader Kim Jong-Il, 124 South Korean companies had run factories and had hired about 54 000 DPRK workers.
In addition to the shutdown, the DPRK decided to cut off military communications lines between the two Koreas and close off communication channels at the truce village of Panmunjom.
The military demarcation line near the Kaesong complex will be completely blockaded by the DPRK, and the land route linking to the factory park will be blocked, according to the statement. South Korea’s military has strengthened defense readiness, while more closely monitoring moves of DPRK forces, against possible DPRK provocations in border areas following the shutdown of the Kaesong complex.
Opposition lawmakers in South Korea on Thursday expressed concerns about further surge in the already escalated tensions on the Korean peninsula after the Kaesong complex shutdown. — Xinhua.