South Korean workers leave Kaesong complex

Workers leave the jointly-managed industrial complex after Pyongyang rejects calls for talks to re-open the facility.

Last Modified: 27 Apr 2013 11:15
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
A total of 800 South Koreans normally worked at Kaesong industrial complex prior to the shutdown [AP]

Around 125 South Korean workers have left a jointly-managed industrial complex in North Korea after Pyongyang rejected calls for talks to re-open the facility.

The workers, who left on Saturday, were among the 175 South Koreans who had remained at the Kaesong industrial complex after operations were suspended on April 9.

A total of 800 South Koreans normally worked there prior to the shutdown. 

A Unification Ministry official said the 125 South Korean employees and one Chinese were able to leave after the North assured their safe passage across the border.

The remaining 50 were scheduled to return to the South by Monday, Yonhap news agency reported.

Operations at 123 South Korean factories came to a halt when Pyongyang pulled out all of its 53,000 workers against the backdrop of rising tension over Pyongyang's nuclear programme and US-South Korean military exercises.

The North blocked South Korean personnel and supplies from entering the complex, but allowed people to leave. 

'Mounting difficulties'

Pyongyang had rejected appeals for South Korean businessmen to send food and supplies to the workers and check their factories in Kaesong.

On Friday, Seoul decided to withdraw all remaining workers to protect them "amid mounting difficulties they are facing at the complex," Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl Jae said.

The Kaesong complex began operations in 2004 and has become a source of hard currency for the impoverished North.

South Korean businessmen are now demanding financial compensation.

"Companies operating in Kaesong have been embarrassed by the government's decision to pull out all workers and are wary of a possible shutdown of the complex," said Hae Jae Gwon, head of the Kaesong Industrial Companies Association. 

Tensions have been high since North Korea carried out its third nuclear test on February 12, triggering condemnation from the international community and resulting in more sanctions against the reclusive state.


Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
More than 400 gaming dens operate on native lands, but critics say social ills and inequality stack the deck.
The Palestinian president is expected to address the UN with a new proposal for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Nearly 1,200 aboriginal females have been killed or disappeared over 30 years with little justice served, critics say.
Ethnic violence has wracked China's restive Xinjiang region, leading to a tight government clampdown.
Malay artists revitalise the art of puppeteering by fusing tradition with modern characters such as Darth Vader.