Seoul won't pull workers from N. Korea yet

April 5, 2013 at 10:34 AM
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SEOUL, April 5 (UPI) -- South Korean workers at an industrial site operated jointly with North Korea won't be pulled until "the situation requires" it, a minister in Seoul said Friday.

So far, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said, conditions at the plant in the North Korean city of Kaesong, north of the demilitarized zone, haven't deteriorated to the point where a withdrawal of South Korean workers would be considered, Yonhap reported.

"When the situation requires, the withdrawal should be carried out for the safety of workers there," he said.

Reacting to international criticism and sanctions over its latest nuclear test, North Korea Wednesday banned entry of South Korean workers and vehicles into the industrial park but so far hasn't barred workers from leaving.

North Korea also has threatened to close the park where 123 South Korean firms produce light-industry goods using North Korean labor.

Ryoo stressed that Seoul wants to see stable management and development of the Kaesong complex.

"Now security on the Korean Peninsula is unstable and inter-Korean relations [are] facing a crisis, but the [South Korean President] Park Geun-hye administration will have its doors open to talk with the North," Ryoo said.

Relations worsened in recent weeks as North Korea repeatedly issued military threats against South Korea, the United States, and their allies, and took a series of other provocative actions. Among other things, Pyongyang unilaterally voided the truce agreements ending the Korean War and severed all military hotlines with Seoul.

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