Future of Kaesong Industrial Complex in Doubt Over Escalating Tensions
The very survival of a joint factory zone in North Korea that has been billed as the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean cooperation is in doubt after South Korea decided Friday to withdraw all of its workers there, analysts said.
In one of its latest moves that drastically escalated cross-border tensions, North Korea on April 9 pulled all of its 53,000 workers from 123 South Korean companies operating at its border city of Kaesong.
After its proposal for dialogue was turned down by North Korea, South Korea on Friday said it will pull out all of its 175 workers remaining in Kaesong.
The tit-for-tat followed near-daily threats of war by North Korea after it conducted its third nuclear test in February. The North was particularly enraged by annual joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises that began in early March and will continue through April.
“North Korea may confiscate assets of the 123 companies in Kaesong as they did in 2008 at Mount Kumgang,” a North Korea affairs expert in Seoul said, referring to a cross-border sightseeing tour to the North’s mountain resort.