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In Standoff with North, South Korea Not Backing Down

North Korean Workers Join Assembly Line At South Korean Industrial Complex

Though the Western media has moved on, things remain tense on the Korean peninsula. Today South Korea withdrew all of its workers from Kaesong, the industrial park jointly operated by the North and the South. The NYT reports:

The decision came hours after North Korea rejected South Korea’s proposal for talks on the future of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, and told the South that it was free to withdraw its people from there.

‘’To protect our citizens, we have made an inevitable decision to bring all of them home,’’ Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae, South Korea’s point man on the North, said in a nationally televised statement.

Kaesong Industrial Complex is the most important cooperative venture on the Korean peninsula, and it is very important to the North’s economy. “Last year,” the Times reports, “the 123 South Korean factories in Kaesong produced $470 million worth of textiles and other labor-intensive products. They also provided the North with $90 million a year in wages for the workers.” During previous crises, such as the Norks’ torpedoing of the Cheonan warship, which killed 46 South Korean sailors, or the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong island, which killed four South Koreans, Kaesong remained open. Not so this time.

Up until now, it has been the Norks who have done all the threatening. That the South is now taking steps is a sign that temperatures are high and still rising. Now that Kaesong is effectively shuttered, how will the Norks respond?

[Kaesong Factory workers image courtesy of Getty]

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  • Blaton Hardey

    How is that a threat? On the Korean peninsula, anything less than “I will have annihilated you ten times by tomorrow afternoon” is small talk, not a threat.

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