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S. Korea sets up Kaesong task force

April 29, 2013 at 12:01 AM

SEOUL, April 29 (UPI) -- South Korea Monday announced a task force to assist firms affected by the idling of the inter-Korean industrial park in Kaesong, North Korea.

The Seoul government has decided to bring back its remaining workers from the complex in the North Korean border town after the North rejected an offer of dialogue for restarting the operations at the complex, the only economic link between the two countries and a source of much economic benefit to the isolated North. Operations were suspended this month as the Communist country refuses to tone down its aggressive threats against the South.

Since last Friday, when the North rejected the dialogue offer, 125 of the 175 South Koreans at Kaesong have come home, Yonhap News reported. The other 50 planned to return Monday.

The complex, which opened in 2004, was idled after the North withdrew all of its about 53,000 workers, alleging South Korean provocations.

"The task force plans to assess damages suffered by the firms with factories at Kaesong and to devise comprehensive and practical supportive measures," the South Korean prime minister's office said in a statement, Yonhap reported.

The Kaesong complex is operated by 123 South Korean companies and there are concerns North Korea would confiscate machinery and goods left behind there, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Yonhap said the South Korean National Assembly has been seeking to resolve the impasse.

"The complete shutdown of the Kaesong Industrial Park will be an irreversible disaster for both Koreas," Moon Hee-sang, an opposition party leader, was quoted as telling an emergency meeting of his party.

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