North Korea said it was expelling South Koreans from a jointly run industrial park and severing a military hotline between the two countries, a day after the government in Seoul announced its withdrawal from the site to punish Kim Jong un for his recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.
The North Korea army is taking control of the Gaeseong industrial complex and freezing the assets of the more than 120 South Korean companies operating there, the official Korean Central News Agency reported Thursday. The army is also sealing off the land route from the factory park to the nearby demilitarized zone that has separated the countries since the end of their civil war more than six decades ago, KCNA said.
“The south Korean puppet group will experience what disastrous and painful consequences will be entailed by its action,” the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said on Thursday in a statement carried by KCNA.
The committee said that President Park Geun Hye was “a fool” for ending operations at the complex, which was the last vestige of economic cooperation between the two countries, calling the suspension “ a dangerous declaration of war.”
“The relations between the two Koreas will remain extremely sour for some time,” Kim Soo Am, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said by phone after the North Korean announcement. “Once Gaeseong turns into a military area, it will be hard for the industrial complex to reopen as North Korea will be requesting strong compensations.”