North Korea blocks access to key industrial zone

Loading the Player...

North Korea blocks South Korean access to a key joint industrial zone, matching its angry rhetoric with action. AFP

South Korean vehicles wait to head to the North Korean city of Kaesong at the customs, immigration and quarantine office in Paju, South Korea, near the border village of Panmunjom, Monday, April 1, 2013. North Korea threatened in recent days to shut down a jointly run factory complex in Kaesong — the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean rapprochement. But officials in Seoul said hundreds of workers traveled as usual across the heavily armed border to the North Korean factory Monday as they have throughout the rising tensions. AP/Ahn Young-joon

SEOUL – North Korea blocked access to and from its joint industrial zone with South Korea Wednesday, a move that could sharply escalate tensions and fuel concerns the crisis on the Korean peninsula is spinning out of control.

The Kaesong industrial complex is a crucial source of hard currency for the regime in Pyongyang and seen as a bellwether of inter-Korean relations, beyond all the military rhetoric that regularly flies across the border.

The latest North Korean move fitted into a cycle of escalating tensions that prompted UN chief Ban Ki-Moon to warn Tuesday that the situation had “gone too far” as the US vowed to defend itself and regional ally South Korea.

Hundreds of South Koreans travel to and from Kaesong, which lies 10 kilometers (six miles) inside North Korea, every day, but officials said the normal morning crossing had been delayed Wednesday.

“North Korea has not yet given us the daily permission for the entry of 484 South Koreans into Kaesong today,” a South Korean Unification Ministry spokeswoman told AFP.

Another 861 South Koreans are inside the complex and the first scheduled exit by some of them was also delayed.

It was not immediately clear if the blocked movement was permanent, but the Unification Ministry stressed that plants in Kaesong were running normally.

“We are waiting, unable to leave,” Kim Dong-Kyu, a company manager currently in Kaesong told the YTN news channel.

“We don’t know the situation well but I’m not particularly worried.

“Plants are operating normally and the atmosphere here is like, business as usual. It doesn’t appear that the complex will be closed as far as I can tell,” Kim said.

North Korea has always been careful in the past not to allow crises on the Korean peninsula to impact Kaesong, which was established in 2004. Around 53,000 North Koreans work at plants for 120 South Korean firms at the complex.

The last time the border crossing was blocked was March 2009 in protest at a major US-South Korean military exercise. It reopened a day later.

Tensions have been soaring on the Korean peninsula since the North held a nuclear test in February, having launched a long-range rocket in December.

In a rare show of force in the region, Washington has deployed nuclear-capable US B-52s, B-2 stealth bombers and two US destroyers to South Korean air and sea space.

Standing side-by-side with counterpart South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, US Secretary of State John Kerry denounced Tuesday an “extraordinary amount of unacceptable rhetoric” from North Korea in recent days.

“Let me be perfectly clear here today. The United States will defend and protect ourselves and our treaty ally, the Republic of Korea,” Kerry said.

He was speaking after the North triggered renewed alarm by warning it would reopen its mothballed Yongbyon reactor — its source of weapons-grade plutonium.

The recent posturing by new North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was “dangerous and reckless,” Kerry said.

Earlier, Ban Ki-moon warned the situation was veering out of control and stressed that “nuclear threats are not a game.”

“The current crisis has already gone too far… Things must begin to calm down,” the former South Korean foreign minister said, adding that negotiations were the only viable way forward.

The North shut down the Yongbyon reactor in July 2007 under a six-nation aid-for-disarmament accord, and destroyed its cooling tower a year later.

Experts say it would take six months to get the reactor back up and running, after which it would be able to produce one bomb’s worth of weapons-grade plutonium a year.

North Korea revealed it was enriching uranium at Yongbyon in 2010 when it allowed foreign experts to visit the centrifuge facility there, but insisted it was low-level enrichment for energy purposes.

The North has substantial uranium ore deposits which provide a quick route to boosting reserves of fissile material, while plutonium has the advantage of being easier to miniaturize into a deliverable nuclear warhead.

Many observers believe the North has been producing highly-enriched uranium in secret facilities for years, and that the third nuclear test it conducted in February may have been of a uranium bomb.

Its previous tests in 2006 and 2009 were both of plutonium devices.

Originally posted at 10:13 am | Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.


    I’m first!

    • Pedro

      Congrats! Bigyan ng jacket! hahaha

      • Kilabot ng mga Balahibo

        *clap *clap *clap

      • magiting78

        Willie ikaw ba yan??? lol

  • Simplify1

    Nanakot pa ang NK!! 53K north korean workers who will lose their jobs would mean that another half a million people (at least) will go hungry …. These people are some of the few north koreans who can eat at least 3 times a day!

    • Concur_Dissent

      Parang taong nasa tulay na sumisigaw na wag may lalapit sa kanya, oras na may lumapit sa kanya ay tatalon siya sa dagat….

    • hu_yu

      hmmm pero sino ba nagsabi na nag gugutom ang mga taga north korea?
      yun lang yun pinagtataka ko

      • Simplify1

        easy…simply google… north koreans turn cannibals….see what you discover

      • hu_yu

        is google reliable?

      • Simplify1

        all you need to do is separate the grain from the shaft… and of course common sense…

  • RyanE

    The young NoKor leader’s bluffs might come to a point where the old myopic generals believe as truth and start a war with the South, where the young leader could then no longer control.

  • Pedro

    North Korea threats = Utot. They know that when they strike first it is going to be their last.

    • Magsasaka

      that is true when no other communist state will come to their aid.

  • Albert Einstien

    .biased si uncle sam NAKASAKLOLO agad sya sa SK…..wala pa naman banatan….samantalang sa RP…INAGAW na ng CHINA ang TERITORYO natin sa SPRATLY at PANATAG… no comment pa AYAW kumibo akala mo PIPI…ganyan din ginawa ni UNCLE SAM sa issue natin sa SABAH..binomba at inihaw na ng MALAYSA ang mga citizens natin..NO COMMENT pa rin sila..para walang nakita..parang BULAG….NGAYON nagdeclara ng guerra ang NK sa kanila gusto na naman tayong IDAMAY…yung mga NINUNO natin ISINABIT na nila sa mga GUERRA nila dati pero ayon nagmamaka-AWA ang mga veterans na nakaligtas pero parang BULAG , PIPI at BINGI pa rin…

    yang BALIKATAN EXERCISE POSTPONE muna yan next year…MADADAMAY tayo sa NUCLEAR TARGET ng NK …pag yung mga WARSHIPS ng US ay nandito sa teritoryo natin …NUCLEAR MAGNETS sila..NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT sila….pwede sila bumalik at maglaro sa atin pag wala na NUCLEAR THREAT ang NK sa kanila..mauna pa tayong tatamaan kesa sa guam. hawaii at mainland US…pag nandito sila….. : > )

    kung magpromise ng COLLECTIVE INTERVENTION at ARM ,FINANCIAL & UN support sa claims natin sa sabah , spratly & panatag ang USA DAPAT …in WRITING para hindi nila basta basta -IDE-DENY…at pwede nating ipakita sa congreso nila… : > )..

    DFA & NOYNOYING READ between the LINES… : > )

    • Magsasaka

      ganon talaga kasi wala naman silang mga factory sa nokor, punta ka tate halos lahat don product ng us pero made in china

    • JosephNess

      nokor is not china, weak for an enemy…and the philippines…what? nothing!!! let’s accept our fate from our long time exploiter…ally? I bet!!!

    • Fred Cua

      Hahaha. Dude, if not because of Gen. McArthurs convictions and persuasion on the US Senators to liberate the Philippines, we are still under Japanese control and his promise of “I shall return” will not be fulfilled. Painful that our American colonizers attempted to abandon us and leave us at the mercy of the Japs, thanks to McArthur. Lets face it, we dont have a special place on Americas heart, just move on. Go check google for more info.

      • Albert Einstien

        i know that is why every promse of usa should be in writing…black & white…

  • penoy2012

    Huwag nang paragalin sa pwesto si kim jung un.

  • w33k3nd3r

    Plutonium and Uranium in spades in North Korea? That doesn’t sound good, especially when their head of state is a war mongering video game addict. You think he cares if his people are hungry? He doesn’t! He’s never been impoverished his entire life– he’ll just click and blow people away if he wants to. That’s the type of person the world is dealing with when it’s NK.

  • Handiong

    I think the North Korean military establishment has taken Kim Jong-Un hostage. I remember Kim Jong-Un saying sometime last year that there would be a shift from the “Military First” policy to making the economy the top priority. This must have angered the military leadership and I would not be surprised if the generals have threatened Kim with a coup d’etat should he persist in his new path. It’s very easy for the generals to bully the 29-year old Kim.

    • brando alejandro

      Wrong. It is the other way around. Kim has a firm grip of the military and the whole North Korean people. They cannot say no to him for fear of their lives.

      • Handiong

        That’s your own personal take.

      • hu_yu

        why? is that how stupid the generals are?

      • Crazy_horse101010

        ive just read where they have purged a lot of generals since fat boy came in power whether that is good or bad no one knows

  • Ed Angeles

    “Let me be perfectly clear here today. The United States will defend and
    protect ourselves and our treaty ally, the Republic of Korea,” Kerry

    sad that we can’t get the same reaction from our long time ally.

    • TreadLikely

      That’s because US are hands-off when it comes to disputed areas.

    • Palparan

      That’s because PAL didn’t purchase Boeing aircrafts, instead, opted for French-made Airbus

      • Magsasaka

        umariba na naman itong bopols na ito, bakit ba napaka irrelevant mo hehehe

      • Palparan

        pumiyok ka na naman bakla! wala na atang customer ang nanay mong pokpok ah…

      • Magsasaka

        huwag kang ganyan huwag mong ginagaganyan ang nanay mo dahil kahit hindi nya talaga kilala tatay mo nanay mo pa rin sya hehehe

      • Palparan

        di mo kilala ang tatay mo? baka ang kapitbahay nyo tatay mo…ganyan talaga pag pokpok ang nanay mo…hahaha!

      • Magsasaka

        ano kamo tatay mo lolo mo rin nyahahaha bunga pa pala ng incest kaya pala ganyan ka hehehe

      • Palparan

        gising ka ala-una ng madaling araw? magdamag ka bang naghanap sa tatay mo? cge, tuloy mo lang yan…ganyan talaga pag pokpok ang nanay mo…wahahahaha!

      • Magsasaka

        ahahaha bopol na duwagis pa, para sa iyong kaalaman utak biya international time ang gamit sa internet para kang tagabundok na bunga ng incest hehehe

      • Palparan

        Nahanap at nakilala mo na ba tatay mo? tuloy mo lang yan, wag kang mawalan ng pag-asa… ganyan talaga pag isa kang ank ng pokpok… international time? kelan pa ba natutong mag international time ang mga squatter na katulad mo? wahahahahaha!

      • Magsasaka

        dinaig ng squatter ang bopols na katulad mo hehehe

      • Palparan

        oo, wala na talagang maka lamang sayo sa pagiging isang anak ng pokpok…ganyan talaga pag squatter…wahahaha!

      • Magsasaka

        daig mo nga ako tatay mo lolo mo hehehe, kaya pala ang baho ng pagkahayop mo kasi bunga ka ng kangkangan ng nanay at lolo mo hehehe

      • Palparan

        wala nang dadig pa sayo… tatay mo ang buong barangay dahil isa kang anak ng pokpok at ang nanay mo ay pokpok…wahahaha!

      • Magsasaka

        ganyan ba talaga ang bunga ng incest hehehe

      • Palparan

        ganyan ba ang bunga ng pagiging anak ng isang pokpok?

      • Magsasaka

        totoo nga ang sabi ng agham, depektibo ang bunga ng incest hehehe

      • Palparan

        totoo din ang agham, sira ang utak ng mga anak ng pokpok… tignan mo si Jonas Burgos, pareho kayo…hahaha!

    • Crazy_horse101010

      this is after america was forced to say im sorry over and over again by the senators who said that wasnt.because enough over the minesweeper incident. and the american public sees their embassy attacked flag burned and seal damaged by their long time ally. i know its the commies but americans dont know that there is a movement in america now no more foreign aid to countries turn against them and that is what americans see on tv. plus they see the signs yankee imperialists go home. that is the reaction they see from their long time ally.

  • R_RR

    Stupid war. Stupid….

  • Juan Pablo Belardo

    Talagang naghahanap ng sakit sa katawan ang Gunggong na Presidente ng NK…

  • Fulpol

    they are looking the “channel of tunnels”…

    just that…

  • Brilliant_Investor

    Kim Jung must come to his senses that having katol sessions with Rodman would do him no good and would only place North Korea in a precarious footing. Only then can he realize the magnitude of his blusters and warlike rhetoric. Only then can he realize the swagger infant that he is. Only then can he realize that Pyongyang can be wiped out in an instant before he can even push the missile button, or should I say light up dud “kwitis” armaments. Lol!

  • guest

    I think China knows what is happening in North Korea.

  • $18209031

    The two are arch enemies and why are they having this joint industrial complex? This is not gonna work. BOth know all of the workers there are spies for each other’s intellegencia. Each one knows who s who working for their respective govts.

  • $18209031

    Maybe its time for them to replace the SK workers with Pino workers who are looking for work. Marami dyan sa mga eskenetas na walang makakain. Hala, banat mga caballeros!!

  • wazgoingon

    Now, North Korea has shifted to self destruct mode. This will trigger nationwide hunger and finally move its people to move and topple the military dictatorship that has ruled its land for ages. Congratulations to Kim Jung Un and his cohorts for taking this wise step.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos