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Monday, April 1, 2013 - Page updated at 08:30 p.m.

North Korea warns that factory complex it runs with South Korea may be closed

By CHOE SANG-HUN and Gerry Mullany
The New York Times

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea, saying once again that it considered the Korean Peninsula back in “a state of war,” threatened Saturday to shut down a factory complex it jointly operates with South Korea that stands as the last significant symbol of cooperation.

The industrial park, the 8-year-old Kaesong complex in the North Korean border town of the same name, is a crucial source of needed cash for the heavily sanctioned North. It funnels more than $92 million a year in wages for 53,400 North Koreans employed there, and its operation has survived despite years of military tensions.

The latest threat to close Kaesong came amid a torrent of bellicose statements by the North in recent days, widely seen as a strategy to increase pressure on South Korea and the United States to soften their policies on the North.

Although South Korean officials said they were ready to retaliate if the North committed any military provocations, they saw no imminent sign of any such attacks. On Saturday, cross-border traffic operated as normal, allowing hundreds of South Koreans to travel to and from Kaesong.

More than 300 South Koreans remained in the complex, where 123 South Korean textile and other labor-intensive factories employ the North Korean workers, at an average monthly wage of $144.

In another development, some of the North’s main government-run websites were disabled Saturday in what news reports said were cyberattacks.

The disabled sites included those of Naenara, the government’s official Web portal; Air Koryo, the state-run airline; and Voice of Korea, Pyongyang’s international broadcast outlet.


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