North Korea suspends last major project with South Korea
North Korea's decision to pull its workers from Kaesong industrial park coincides with speculation that it could carry out a missile test.
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The Associated Press notes that even with Pyongyang's statement, the status of Kaesong's South Korean managers remains uncertain. One South Korean manager told AP that he had heard nothing about the suspension, and although the North had asked South Koreans to report by Wednesday when they plan to leave the site, no orders to leave had been issued.Skip to next paragraph
Arthur Bright is the Europe Editor at The Christian Science Monitor. He has worked for the Monitor in various capacities since 2004, including as the Online News Editor and a regular contributor to the Monitor's Terrorism & Security blog. He is also a licensed Massachusetts attorney.
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"North Korean workers left work at 6 o'clock today as they usually do. We'll know tomorrow whether they will come to work," said the manager, who declined to be identified because he was not allowed to speak to media.
Cho Han-Bum, an analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul, told Agence France-Presse that while Kaesong's closure was "politically... a very dangerous decision to make for the North," he sees the move as typical North Korean brinksmanship.
"I still don't believe that the North is genuinely serious about shutting Kaesong permanently. By saying its future depends on the behaviour of South Korea, it's leaving room open for negotiation," he said.
The Kaesong decision comes amid speculation in the West that North Korea is planning a missile launch or other provocative move. The weekend saw reports that the North was moving missiles toward its east coast, likely for a missile test of some kind. And South Korea notes that Pyongyang is ready to conduct a nuclear test at short notice, although Seoul on Monday was forced to clarify a minister's apparent misstatement that such a test was "imminent."
AP reports that the Unification Ministry said that Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae misspoke when he said during a parliamentary session on Monday that there was an "indication" of preparations for a nuclear test. Though North Korea has long been ready for a test, a ministry official said, Mr. Ryoo did not mean to imply that there had been any sign of increased activity that way at present.
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