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N. Korea expels S. Korean workers at Kaesong complex

Pyongyang has warned it would seize all materials left behind by South Korean companies and organizations. The North has described Seoul's suspension of operations at Kaesong as a "dangerous declaration of war."

North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) on Thursday ordered all South Korean workers at the jointly-run Kaesong industrial complex to leave, a day after Seoul said it was suspending operations there.

"South Korean enemy forces will experience themselves the harsh and painful price they should pay for halting the Kaesong industrial complex," the CPRK said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

The CPRK, Pyongyang's body responsible for relations with Seoul, said the South's decision to suspend operations at the Kaesong complex was a "dangerous declaration of war" and a "declaration of an end to the last lifeline of North-South relations."

Pyongyang also declared the area a military control zone, adding that it would seize all property left on site. "We seize all assets of the South Korean companies and related organization including machinery, raw materials and goods," the statement said.

Seoul on Wednesday announced the suspension of its operations at the joint facility in response to North Korea's nuclear bomb test in January and a long-range rocket launch last week, deemed a ballistic missile test by much of the international community.

Watch video 01:28

Kaesong closure bad for business | DW News

'Withdraw South Koreans'

"The government is seeking to withdraw South Koreans from there as soon as possible," said an official at South Korea's unification ministry, as quoted by the Yonhap news agency. Prior to Pyongyang's expulsion order, Seoul had given its workers at the facility until Saturday to leave.

Pynongyang also noted that it was cutting off two military communications lines.

Always precarious, North-South relations have been particularly tense in recent months, even prior to the nuclear and missile tests. Last August both sides

agreed to end a military standoff

prompted by South Korean soldiers wounded in mine blasts and the South's resumption of propaganda broadcasts via loudspeakers along the border. This small breakthrough had led to new peace talks between the two sides, which have since broken down.

The Korean Peninsula was divided by the Korean Demilitarized Zone - one of the most militarized borders on the planet, despite the name - following a truce in 1953. The two sides never signed a full peace deal.

ls/ (AP, Reuters)

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