South Korea ‘To Withdraw Staff’ From Kaesong Zone in North
South Korea says it is withdrawing its remaining workers from a jointly-run industrial complex in North Korea.
The announcement came from the unification minister shortly after Pyongyang rejected an offer of talks.
North Korea blocked access to the Kaesong zone - once a symbol of inter-Korean co-operation - earlier this month and later pulled its workers out.
The move followed weeks of high tension in the wake of North Korea’s third nuclear test in February.
“Because our nationals remaining in the Kaesong industrial zone are experiencing greater difficulties due to the North’s unjust actions, the government has come to the unavoidable decision to bring back all remaining personnel in order to protect their safety,” Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said.
“North Korea must guarantee the safe return of our personnel and fully protect the assets of the companies with investment in Kaesong,” he added.
He did not give a timescale for the withdrawal. A total of 175 South Korean workers are currently in the complex, which is home to South Korean factories staffed by North Korean workers.
Timeline: Korean tensions
12 Dec: North launches a rocket, claiming to have put a satellite into orbit
12 Feb: North conducts underground nuclear test
11 Mar: US-South Korea annual military drills begin
30 Mar: North says it is entering a “state of war” with South
2 Apr: North says it is restarting Yongbyon reactor
3 Apr: North blocks South workers from Kaesong industrial zone
9 Apr: North pulls its workers from Kaesong zone
10 Apr: North moves two mid-range Musudan missiles to its east coast
26 Apr: South Korea announces withdrawal of all remaining South Korean workers
The remaining South Koreans were believed to be running out of food and medicines, because the North had refused to allow fresh supplies in.