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Pyongyang “restarts” operations at shuttered inter-Korean industrial complex

A security officer stands guard on an empty road which leads to the Kaesong Industrial Complex at South Korea’s Customs, Immigration and Quarantine zone, just south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas. (Reuters)
SEOUL: North Korea has restarted operations at the Kaesong industrial zone, state-run websites said on Friday, after the joint venture with South Korea was suspended last year amid disagreement over the North’s nuclear and missile programs.
The South ended more than a decade of cooperation at the factory park on the North Korean side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) after the North launched a rocket that put an object into orbit, closing the last remaining window of interaction between the two sides, still technically at war.
At the time, South Korea said it would no longer allow funds paid for Kaesong to be used in the North’s missile and nuclear programs. Since then, a South Korean official has said there is no evidence that North Korea diverted wages paid to its workers by South Korean companies operating in the park to its weapons programs.
“They do not even see our proud workers laboring vigorously working in the Kaesong industrial complex,” North Korea’s propaganda web site Meari (arirangmeari.com) said in a post dated Friday.
Another propaganda web site, Uriminzokkiri, said “it is nobody’s business what we do in an industrial complex where our nation’s sovereignty is exercised.”
An official at South Korea’s Ministry of Unification said that North Korea must not violate South Korean firms’ property rights within the complex, wire service Yonhap reported.
The Ministry of Unification could not be immediately reached for comment.
Reclusive North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test, and may be fast advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last weekend that Washington was directly communicating with Pyongyang on its nuclear and missile programs but that Pyongyang had shown no interest in dialogue.
US President Donald Trump later dismissed any prospect of talks with North Korea as a waste of time.

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