South Korea said Wednesday it has decided to “completely” shut down a joint industrial complex in North Korea in response to the North’s recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.
The Unification Ministry announced that it will stop the operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North’s border city of the same name, the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation.
Seoul’s move is part of its “bone-numbing” measures against North Korea’s nuclear test on Jan. 6 and its long-range missile launch earlier this week.
On Sunday, the North launched a long-range rocket carrying a satellite, which Seoul and Washington view as a cover for a banned test of intercontinental ballistic technology.
“The operation of the complex should not be used for North Korea’s development of weapons of mass destruction at a time when the international community is pushing for tougher sanctions against the North,” said a ministry official, asking not to be named.
A total of 124 South Korean companies are operating in the zone, some 50 kilometers northwest of Seoul, employing more than 54,000 North Korean workers to produce labor-intensive goods, such as clothes and utensils.
The complex, opened in 2004, has served as a major revenue source for the cash-strapped North, while South Korea has benefited from cheap but skilled North Korean labor. The South Korean firms annually provide about $100 million in total to North Korean workers for income. Read More