Seoul has said it's suspending the country's participation in an industrial park run jointly with North Korea. The move came in response to Pyongyang's nuclear test in January and the launch of a ballistic missile.
Seoul said Wednesday it was halting operations in a jointly run industrial complex on the border with North Koreain response to its neighbor's nuclear test and rocket launch.
The Kaesong industrial zone where 120 South Korean companies employ around 54,000 North Koreans had been one of the last connections between the two countries to remain standing among previous escalations since it was established in 2004.
The suspension of operations at Kaesong will see Pyongyang cut off from a considerable amount of hard currency.
The ball is in North Korea's court
"The operation of the complex should not be used for North Korea's development of weapons of mass destruction at a time when the international community is pushing for tougher sanctions against the North," South Korean Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo said in a statement.
Operations were last suspended for four months in 2013 by North Korea in protest of joint military drills by South Korean and US troops.
Any talks on reopening the Kaesong complex would now depend on Pyongyang, which "must first dispel concerns about its nuclear and missile developments," Seoul said.
In a separate development, Japan said Wednesday it was also tightening its stance on North Korea by imposing fresh sanctions. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo that remittances to North Korea would largely be forbidden.
hg/cjc (AFP, Reuters)