North Korea has decided to expel South Koreans working at Kaesong industrial complex and freeze their assets. After South Korea abruptly suspended operations in the jointly-run industrial area, North Korea has decided to penalize all the workers and the companies that were operating there.
North Korea declared it was throwing out all South Koreans from the jointly-run Kaesong industrial zone on Thursday. Apart from the forcible expulsion, the workers and the companies will have their assets frozen. If that’s not enough, the country has even declared the industrial park as a military control zone.
South Korea had abruptly forced all companies operating at Kaesong industrial complex to suspend their operations, after it suspected that North Korea might have been siphoning off the profits to further its own illegal activities that violated a number of international rules imposed upon it through the United Nations.
The industrial park located in the border city, is used by 124 South Korean companies doing business within its borders. However, more importantly, it offered a reliable income source to 54,000 North Koreans. The park has been an important source of foreign revenue and livelihood for people in both the countries. While South Korea claims it doesn’t interfere with the companies located in Kaesong, it has openly accused the North of grabbing the hard-earned money of its citizens for funding illegal military projects, reported Huffington Post.
There have been some strong sanctions imposed against North Korea in recent times. Under various agreements, the country is banned from scaling up its nuclear program, producing long-range ballistic missiles, and indulging in production of lethal weaponry. However, its numerous nuclear tests, six to be precise, proclaimed satellite launches, and revival of a mothballed nuclear reactor to produce weapons-grade plutonium, indicate the country is aggressively pursuing a nuclear program. Since the country can’t officially source and allocate funds for such projects, it is usurping the money earned by its citizens at the Kaesong industrial complex, alleges South Korea.
The Kaesong industrial complex was supposed to be an earnest attempt at reconciliation between the estranged neighbors. Opened in 2004, the park has been closed on a few earlier occasions owing to the differences between the countries. After each closure, which lasted from a few weeks to a few months, both the countries vowed never to close it again “under any circumstances.” While it was North Korea who had shuttered the complex last time, it is the South that has chosen to cease all operations. The closure comes amidst fresh sanctions Japan announced against North Korea for its various military projects.
South Korea to suspend joint-run Kaesong industrial complex. https://t.co/b8aXMlRHLd— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) February 10, 2016
Citizens from both the sides have expressed their disappointment. South Korea hasn’t confirmed how it is going to compensate the companies that had been operating at the Kaesong industrial complex for their losses. To date, North Koreans working at the complex had collectively earned 616 billion won ($515 million), stated the South Korean government. North Koreans who lived and worked at the complex witnessed a life that was way better than back at home. Quite a few commodities like chocolates and toiletries are still considered a luxury and North Koreans have to pay artificially jacked-up prices for them, reported Reuters.
Industrial zone shutdown is ‘end to last lifeline’ of North and South Korea rapprochement https://t.co/GN92rar1U1— The Independent (@Independent) February 11, 2016
As a response to the closure, North Korea has decided to expel the workers and penalize South Korean companies. The country added that it was cutting off a military hotline with the South, according to the statement by North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, carried in North Korean state media, reported CNN.
North Korea has routinely indicated it is focused on developing nuclear weapons. While its claims about successful development of a miniaturized hydrogen bomb do seem a bit far-fetched, the country does detonate nuclear devices with alarming frequency.
[Photo by Jung Yeon-Je/Getty Images]