North Korea expels 11 South Korean officials from industrial zone
North Korea expelled 11 South Korean government officials from their joint office in the industrial zone of Kaesong Thursday, the Unification Ministry said. ( dpa )
North Korea said remarks by Unification Minister Kim Ha Joong last week that it would be difficult to expand the complex without progress in North Korea's denuclearization as the reason for the expulsion, said a ministry spokesman.
Newly elected conservative President Lee Myung Bak said he will take a tough position on Pyongyang and link inter-Korean cooperation projects to progress in multilateral negotiations over North Korea's nuclear programmes - a sharp shift from his two liberal predecessors.
Talks on North Koreas denuclearization, involving the United States, China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas, have been stalled since the end of 2007 over a dispute on a declaration of the North's nuclear programmes and proliferation activities.
The Kaesong industrial zone, located just north of the heavily armed inter-Korean border, is a symbol of the 2000 inter-Korean summit in which the leaders reached an agreement on peace and reconciliation.
There are 69 South Korean factories employing 23,953 North Korean workers in the industrial zone, which the two Koreas agreed to expand at their second summit last year.
Five South Korean civilians are now working at the Kaesong office.