S Korean workers denied entry in North

Over 480 barred entry into Kaesong park; 861 staying in industrial complex allowed to return

Seoul | Published: April 4, 2013 1:22:17 am

CHOE SANG-HUN

North Korea blocked South Koreans on Wednesday from crossing the heavily armed border to a jointly-operated industrial park,raising doubt about the future of the last remaining major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.

The move came four days after North Korea threatened to shut down the industrial park,in the North Korean town of Kaesong,out of anger over United Nations sanctions and joint military drills that the United States and South Korea are conducting on the Korean Peninsula.

More than 480 South Koreans — many with their trucks — who showed up at a border crossing Wednesday morning were denied permission to cross and had to turn around,said the Unification Ministry of South Korea,which is in charge of relations with the North.

But North Korea promised to allow 861 South Koreans currently staying in Kaesong to return home if they wished,the ministry said. But with no replacements arriving,only 33 decided to return home on Wednesday.

The complex,on the western edge of the border of the two Koreas,generates more than $92 million a year in wages for 53,400 North Koreans employed by 123 textile and other labour-intensive South Korean factories there.

Korean war unlikely,says Indian envoy

SHUBHAJIT ROY

NEW DELHI: Amid provocative words from North Korea,India is fast coming to the conclusion that there is “little likelihood” of any “imminent or active hostilities” breaking out in the Korean peninsula.

The government,through its skeletal mission at Pyongyang,North Korea,and a more robust embassy at Seoul in South Korea,is keeping a close watch on the developments in the region. In fact,the Indian embassy in Seoul has got a new defence wing,opened just about six months ago,who are also keeping tab on the situation.

Speaking to The Indian Express over telephone from Seoul on Monday night,India’s ambassador to South Korea,Vishnu Prakash,said,“From all available indications,there is little likelihood of any imminent or active hostilities breaking out on the Korean peninsula.”

The assessment comes,even as South Korea’s new president Park Geun-Hye promised a strong military response to any North Korean provocation. “As of now everything is normal. The South Korean government offices,financial institutions,airlines,hospitality industry,businesses,schools and colleges,as well as,foreign missions are functioning smoothly,as usual,” Prakash said.

He said the Indian mission is vigilant. “Should there be any adverse development,we will immediately alert the Indian community telephonically and/or electronically.” There are about 8,000 Indian nationals in South Korea.

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