SEOUL -- After days of harsh threats against the United States and South Korea, North Korea on Wednesday morning banned South Koreans’ entry to the Kaesong industrial complex that is operated jointly by the North and South in a region just above the demilitarized zone.
The action came a day after Pyongyang announced that it would restart a reactor that was closed in 2007 and increase production of nuclear weapons material.
The South Korean Unification Ministry said the North was allowing workers already at the Kaesong industrial park to cross the border to return to the South. About 480 South Koreans who had planned to travel to the park Wednesday were being refused entry, officials and wire services reported.
Last week North Korea threatened to shut down the industrial zone, which is an important source of hard currency for Pyongyang. There are 123 businesses in the zone that employ nearly 50,000 North Korean workers producing a variety of goods, including watches and clothing, worth an estimated $470 million last year.
The last time the North closed the border gate to the industrial zone was in 2009 in retaliation for a U.S.-South Korean military drill called Key Resolve.