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North Korea pulls workers from complex it runs with South Korea

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Monday it would pull out all workers from an industrial complex operated jointly with the South and examine the possibility of closing the facility.

The North's announcement, carried by its state-run news agency, halts the last form of inter-Korean cooperation at a time when Pyongyang has rattled the region by threatening a series of attacks and declaring a state of war with the South.

Though North Korea barred South Koreans from the Kaesong plant on Wednesday, few analysts suspected that it would shutter the complex, which generates foreign currency for the authoritarian government, even temporarily.

North Korea might eventually try to reopen the facility, located six miles north of the demilitarized border. But South Korean businesses could be wary about returning to an area Pyongyang has described as a "theater of confrontation."

At least once before, in 2009, the North barricaded the plant for several days.

Kaesong, which began operation in 2004, pairs roughly 50,000 low-cost North Korean workers with 123 small- and medium-size South Korean companies. The complex matters disproportionately to the North, helping to offset the country's heavy reliance on China for trade, key resources and foreign currency.

A South Korean army soldier moves part of a barricade at Unification Bridge near the border village of Panmunjom, South Korea, that has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War. North Korean workers didn’t show up for work at a jointly run factory complex with South Korea on Tuesday.

Associated Press

A South Korean army soldier moves part of a barricade at Unification Bridge near the border village of Panmunjom, South Korea, that has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War. North Korean workers didn’t show up for work at a jointly run factory complex with South Korea on Tuesday.

North Korea pulls workers from complex it runs with South Korea 04/08/13 [Last modified: Monday, April 8, 2013 11:54pm]
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