South Korean Officials Expelled From Kaesong Complex
North Korea ordred South Korean officials to leave Kaesong in retaliation for remarks made by the unification minister, says the Hankyoreh:
North Korea expelled most of the South Korean officials from the inter-Korean office in the Kaesong industrial complex early Thursday, a government source said.
The measure was taken in protest of South Korean Unification Minister Kim Ha-joong’s recent remarks that it would be difficult to expand the complex without North Korea’s denuclearization, the source said.
“The South Korean government pulled 11 out of the 13 officials residing in the inter-Korean joint office in the Kaesong complex at about 3 a.m. Thursday after the North demanded the withdrawal of all of the officials,” the source said.
Only two South Korean officials, both in charge of facility maintenance, remain in the office.
The expulsion comes on the heels of recent comments by both President Lee and Unification Minister Kim calling for greater reciprocity in North-South relations. The Korea Times has more details on what was said:
The President made it clear that his government would engage in open dialogue with North Korea on the basis of national consensus and in cooperation with the international community
[President Lee’s] remarks were construed as the President’s intention not to implement South Korean-backed big-ticket cross-border business projects until substantial progress is made in the international talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, North Korea experts said.
During the second-inter Korean summit in Pyongyang last October, former President Roh Moo-hyun promised North Korean leader Kim Jong-il a package of business projects using South Korean taxpayers’ money, inviting severe criticism from conservatives.
Lee said, however, existing inter-Korean business programs, such as a South Korean-backed tour of Mount Geumgang in the North and the operation of a joint industrial complex in North Korea’s border city of Gaeseong, should be continued, though there is still “room for improvement.”
Unification Minister Kim Ha-joong backed Lee’s policy line on North Korea demanding more reciprocity from the communist neighbor. Kim pledged the government would control the pace of inter-Korean economic cooperation in line with progress at the six-party nuclear talks involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.