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    A vehicle leaving the Kaesong joint industrial zone passes through disinfectant spray before a checkpoint at the CIQ immigration centre near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North an South Korea, in Paju on February 11, 2016

    South Korea Shut Joint Industrial Zone Independently

    © AFP 2019 / ED JONES
    Asia & Pacific
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    South Korean officials have independently decided to shut down a border industrial zone.

    TOKYO (Sputnik) – South Korean officials have independently decided to shut down a border industrial zone following North Korea's rocket launch, Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo said Sunday.

    "China and other neighboring countries showed certain interest on this issue, but we have made the decision on our own," Hong said as quoted by the Yonhap news service.

    Pyongyang suspended all emergency contact lines with Seoul after South Korean staff walked out of Kaesong last Wednesday in protest of North Korea’s long-range rocket launch on Sunday.

    On Thursday, South Korean companies were ordered to pull out of the Kaesong industrial park on the border between two Koreas. The move reportedly aims to sever financial flows to the North, which it allegedly uses to develop nuclear and missile technologies.

    Hong did not rule out the possibility of renewed talks to reopen Kaesong in the future, subject to Pyongyang meeting its obligations to the international community.

    "The closing essentially aims to teach North Korea a lesson. That is why everything now depends on North Korea. If it shows a sincere desire to dispel our fears and the concerns of the international community, we can discuss the normalization," he stressed.

    There were 124 South Korean companies operating at Kaesong, producing clothes, footwear, watches and other goods, with over 54,000 North Korean employees earning a minimum of $70.35 a month. Hong alleged earlier Sunday that North Korean leaders confiscated up to 70 percent of their earnings to finance the country’s nuclear program.

    Despite limited industrial cooperation, South and North Korea are still legally at war as no peace treaty between them was signed after the Korean War of 1950-1953.


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