Entering a state of war: North Korea

Threatens to close Kaesong

Written by Associated Press | Seoul | Published:March 31, 2013 12:32 am

North Korea warned Seoul Saturday that the Korean Peninsula was entering “a state of war” and threatened to shut down a factory complex that’s the last major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.

Analysts say a full-scale conflict is extremely unlikely,noting that the Korean Peninsula has remained in a technical state of war for 60 years. But North’s continued threats toward Seoul and Washington,including a vow to launch a nuclear strike,have raised worries a misjudgment in how to address the warnings could lead to a clash.

The Kaesong industrial park,run with North Korean labour and South Korean knowhow,has been operating normally,despite Pyongyang shutting down a communications channel typically used to coordinate travel by South Korean workers to and from the park just across the border in North Korea. The rivals are now coordinating the travel indirectly,through an office at Kaesong that has outside lines to South Korea.

However,an identified spokesman for the North’s office controlling Kaesong Saturday said it would close the factory park if South Korea continued to undermine its dignity. Pyongyang expressed anger over media reports that suggested the factory remained open because it was a source of hard currency for the impoverished North.

Dozens of South Korean firms run factories in the border town of Kaesong. Using North Korea’s cheap,efficient labour,the Kaesong complex produced $470 million worth of goods in 2012.

North Korea’s threats are seen as efforts to provoke the new government in Seoul to change its policies toward Pyongyang,and win diplomatic talks with Washington to get more aid.

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