NATIONAL

S. Korea starts pulling workers from Gaeseong

By Shin Hyon-hee
  • Published : Apr 26, 2013 - 20:59
  • Updated : Apr 27, 2013 - 16:31

 

South Korean vehicles pass through the Dorasan Customs, Immigration and Quarantine office in Paju, Gyeonggi province, on Saturday in this still image taken from video footage of the Korean TV network YTN. Yonhap News

South Korean workers at a jointly run industrial complex in North Korea returned home Saturday, Seoul officials said, a day after the government here decided to withdraw them following Pyongyang's rejection of an offer for dialogue.

According to officials, 11 workers came home from the Gaeseong industrial complex Saturday afternoon with 116 more scheduled to follow later in the day.

As of Friday, there were 175 South Koreans at the factory zone.

After 127 return Saturday, the remaining employees could be home by Monday.

Seoul ordered Friday for all remaining workers to return home from Gaeseong, after Pyongyang spurned a proposal for talks to resolve disputes over the factory park, which is considered the last remnant of inter-Korean rapprochement.

In turning down the offer for dialogue, North Korea warned of "grave action" of its own, without giving specifics.

Earlier Saturday, the North authorized the South Korean workers to cross the border. Officials from the two Koreas had held working-level talks late into Friday night before the North decided to allow the workers to leave Gaeseong.

The North's National Defense Commission said Friday it would ensure the safety of the South Koreans.

As to what follow-up measures will be taken by South Korea after the Kaesong workers return home, Prime Minister Chung Hong-won said at a parliamentary interpellation session that "The government will make efforts for the normalization (of the Gaeseong industrial complex)."

The prime minister said that the government will take actions against the North for its stance against the South, urging the isolated country to open dialogue with Seoul. (Yonhap News)