North Korea moves to cut remaining ties with South
Angered by charges that it torpedoed the Cheonan Navy ship, North Korea appears ready to shut down the Kaesong Economic Complex, the last point of contact between the two Koreas. Kaesong hosts some 100 South Korean factories and more than 40,000 North Korean workers.
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South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak suspended all trade and most aid with North Korea on Monday, but did not stop production at Kaesong, located just above the North-South Korean line and about 40 miles north of Seoul.Skip to next paragraph
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North Korea made the announcement as South Korea was again broadcasting propaganda messages into North Korea. South Korea resumed propaganda broadcasts Tuesday while refurbishing huge loudspeakers on the southern side of the Demilitarized Zone that has divided the peninsula since the end of the Korean War.
Mr. Lee added another rhetorical flourish Tuesday by ordering North Korea again to be declared South Korea’s “main enemy” – a term that Kim Dae-jung as president had dropped from Ministry of Defense white papers.
The war of words on both sides escalated as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was about to leave China and fly here Wednesday for several hours of intense discussion at which she’s certain again to align the US closely with South Korea’s tough position.
North Korea now is accusing South Korean vessels, on increased patrols, of entering North Korean waters, and is threatening to fire on them. North Korea has also threatened to shoot at the loudspeakers spewing out appeals to North Korean troops on the other side of the DMZ to defect to the South. South Korean leaders are planning joint exercises with US aircraft and warships to sharpen antisubmarine warfare skills in the area in the Yellow, or West, Sea where the Cheonan went down.
“They just want to threaten South Korea, to show they have the capability to harm the South,” says Ha Tae-keung, president of Open Radio for North Korea, broadcasting news and propaganda into the North. “If South Korea succumbs to the threat, they can have the advantage and financial profits from aid.”
Both sides stopped propaganda broadcasts during the decade of the Sunshine policy initiated by the late President Kim in 1998, but the conservative President Lee has declared an end to efforts at reconciliation with the North as tensions rise to the highest level on the peninsula in decades. He took office in February 2008 after winning a landslide victory over a liberal opponent in revulsion over the economic issues as well as disappointment over Sunshine.
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