North Korea denies South access to joint factory
Pyongyang: Latest in its volley of antagonistic acts, North Korea on Wednesday denied South Korean workers from entering into a joint industrial zone, which serves as the only remaining symbol of Koreans cooperation.
South Korean Unification Ministry said that South Koreans were being allowed to leave the Kaesong complex but not enter it, the BBC reported.
"South Korea's government deeply regrets the entry ban and urges it be lifted immediately," the BBC quoted Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-seok.
Kim said about 480 South Koreans who had planned to travel to the park Wednesday were being refused entry.
If North Korea continues to deny entrance to South Korean workers, it could be tantamount to a shutdown because Kaesong factories cannot operate production lines without supplies of raw materials sent regularly by truck from the South to the North.
Seoul's Unification Ministry urged Pyongyang to "immediately normalize" cross-border traffic in and out of Kaesong.
North Korean authorities cited recent political circumstances on the Korean Peninsula when they delivered their decision to block South Korean workers from entering Kaesong, Kim said without elaborating.
North Korea's latest act could intensify the already tense situation in Korean peninsula as the Kaesong industrial complex was the only uniting factor for both the rivals.
The move to block South Korean access comes a day after North announced that it would restart Nyongbyon nuclear plant and boost its nuclear arsenal.
Enraged over UN sanctions and joint US-South Korea drills, North Korea has been issuing bold aggressive threats day after day, it's previous threats being declaring "state of war" with the South and threatening to launch missile strikes against Seoul and Washington.
Last month, North Korea also scrapped the armistice that ended Korean War (1950-53).
The Kaesong industrial park started producing goods in 2004 and has been an unusual point of cooperation in an otherwise hostile relationship between the Koreas.
North and South Korea do not allow their citizens to travel to the other country without approval, but an exception had previously been made each day for the South Koreans working at Kaesong.
About 120 South Korean firms run factories in the border town of Kaesong, with 53,000 North Koreans working there. Using North Korea's cheap, efficient labor, the Kaesong complex produced $470 million worth of goods last year.
The North's rising rhetoric has been met by a display of US military strength, including flights of nuclear-capable bombers and stealth jets at the annual South Korean-US military drills that the allies call routine but that North Korea claims are invasion preparations.
The US also came down heavily upon North Korea's threat to reopen nuke facilities, slamming Kim Jong Un's acts as "dangerous" and "reckless".
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday said that Pyongyang the US would not accept the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) as a nuclear state.