The decision to pull the workers, announced Friday by Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae, raised questions about what will happen to the jointly run Kaesong Industrial Complex, which has been basically idle since North Korea withdrew its laborers in early April, Yonhap reported.
"We made the decision to withdraw all workers in light of mounting difficulties they face at the complex," Ryoo said.
As of Friday, 175 South Koreans were at the factory zone, down from 800, Unification Ministry officials said. On April 9, North Korea withdrew its 53,000 laborers who work for South Korean companies, virtually shuttering the complex.
Ryoo accused North Korea of turning its back on its obligations and agreements it had reached with South Korea to open the zone in 2004.
South Korea announced its decision several hours after North Korea turned down Seoul's proposal for government-level dialogue. South Korea had warned it could take "grave action" of its own regarding the industrial zone.