|South Korean trucks from the Gaeseong Industrial Complex in North Korea pass a checkpoint near the inter-Korean border in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, Thursday. / Korea Times photo by Seo Jae-hoon|
By Yi Whan-wooNorth Korea expelled South Korean workers from the Gaeseong Industrial Complex (GIC) and froze all South Korean-owned property there, Thursday, retaliating against the South's decision to shut down the complex the previous day.Pyongyang also designated the area an off-limits military zone, and cut off communication lines between the two Koreas."We ordered all South Korean personnel to leave the GIC by 5 p.m. [local time], Thursday," the North said in a statement issued by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, which handles inter-Korean affairs.The statement came as South Korean firms there were pulling out their assets based on the government's decision. Some of 280 South Korean officials and workers remained at the complex after 5 p.m., but all of them returned home safely afterwards. "We decided to freeze all assets belonging to South Korean enterprises and related organizations, including their machinery, raw materials and products. Those who are deported can take nothing but their personal possessions," the statement read."When the South Koreans leave, we'll cut off inter-Korean military hotlines, and then the dialogue channel set up at the truce village of Panmunjeom."The South Korean enemy forces will experience themselves the harsh and painful price they should pay for halting the Kaesong industrial complex," it said.The South decided to shut down the complex, Wednesday, to punish Pyongyang for its launching of a long-range rocket, Feb. 7.
The launch was regarded by other nations as a U.N.-banned ballistic missile test. The Park Geun-hye administration suspects that the GIC, which has been a symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation, has been Kim Jong-un regime's major source of hard currency to finance the rocket launch and also its latest nuclear test, Jan. 6.The 124 enterprises, most of them small- and medium-sized enterprises employed 54,000 North Korean employees. North Korea said it had pulled out all of its laborers from the GIC.A Cheong Wa Dae official said it was predictable that the reclusive state would take a retaliatory move.The Ministry of Unification said its officials helped South Koreans at the GIC return home safely.The military said they have enhanced their readiness posture to cope with heightened tension on the peninsula."Our findings show that North Korea has also has fortified its readiness posture on the border near Gaeseong before it announced the deportation of our nationals," a military official said. "There has been increased military activity in the area as well and we're preparing for Pyongyang's possible provocations."Prior to North Korea's announcement, negotiators from the two Koreas had been discussing follow-up measures in response to the South's measure to stop operations at the GIC.The complex has been a symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation since its opening in 2004 in line with an inter-Korean summit in June 2000.It last shut down in April 2013 when North Korean Kim Jong-un pulled the workforce there for Seoul allegedly offending the leader.Seoul has invested 1.19 trillion won ($850.9 million) on both the government and civic level since the GIC opened in 2004, including 616 billion won in cash, according to the unification ministry.
'군 통신·판문점 연락통로도 폐쇄' '모든 자산 전면동결'朴대통령 실명 거론하며 막말 비난하기도
우리 정부의 개성공단 전면 중단 조치에 대응해 북한이 11일 개성공단을 군사통제구역으로 선포하고 남측 인원을 전원 추방하는 조치를 취했다.
북한은 이날 조국평화통일위원회 성명을 통해 '11일 10시(우리 시간 오전 10시 30분)부터 개성공업지구와 인접한 군사분계선을 전면봉쇄하고 북남관리구역 서해선 육로를 차단하며 개성공업지구를 폐쇄하고 군사통제구역으로 선포한다'고 밝혔다.
성명은 '개성공업지구에 들어와있는 모든 남측 인원들을 11일 17시(우리 시간 오후 5시 30분)까지 전원 추방한다'고 덧붙였다.
성명은 이어 '개성공업지구에 있는 남측 기업과 관계 기관의 설비, 물자, 제품을 비롯한 모든 자산들을 전면동결한다'면서 '추방되는 인원들은 사품 외에 다른 물건들은 일체 가지고 나갈수 없으며 동결된 설비, 물자, 제품들은 개성시인민위원회가 관리하게 될 것'이라고 말했다.
성명은 또 '남측 인원 추방과 동시에 남북 사이의 군 통신과 판문점 연락통로를 폐쇄한다'면서 '11일 우리 근로자들은 개성공업지구에서 전부 철수한다'고 강조했다. 우리 정부에 따르면 북한 근로자들은 이날 전원 출근하지 않았다.
성명은 우리측의 개성공단 운영 중단에 대해서는 '도발적 조치'라고 규정하면서 '북남관계의 마지막 명줄을 끊어놓는 파탄선언이고 역사적인 6·15북남공동선언에 대한 전면부정이며 조선반도정세를 대결과 전쟁의 최극단으로 몰아가는 위험천만한 선전포고'라고 주장했다.
그러면서 '괴뢰들이 그따위 푼돈이 우리의 위력한 핵무기개발과 위성발사에 들어간것처럼 떠드는 것은 초보적인 셈세기도 할 줄 모르는 황당무계한 궤변'이라고 주장했다.
성명은 박근혜 대통령에 대해서 '대결악녀', '머저리', '얼간망둥이' 등등 차마 입에 담기 어려울 정도의 막말을 동원해 비난했다. (연합뉴스)