SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Raising tensions with South Korea yet again, North Korea cut a military hotline that has been essential in operating the last major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation: an industrial complex in the North that employs hundreds of workers from the South.
There was no immediate word about what cutting one of the few remaining official North-South links would mean for South Korean workers who were at the Kaesong industrial complex. When the link was last cut, in 2009, many South Koreans were stranded in the North.
The hotline shutdown is the latest of many threats and provocative actions from North Korea, which is angry over U.S.-South Korean military drills and recent U.N. sanctions punishing it for its Feb. 12 nuclear test. In a statement announcing the shutdown, the North repeated its claim that war may break out any moment.
Outside North Korea, Pyongyang's actions are seen in part as an effort to spur dormant diplomatic talks to wrest outside aid, and to strengthen internal loyalty to young leader Kim Jong Un and build up his military credentials.
South Korean officials said that about 750 South Koreans were in Kaesong on Wednesday, and that the two Koreas had normal communications earlier in the day over the hotline when South Korean workers traveled back and forth to the factory park as scheduled.
Workers at Kaesong could also be contacted directly by phone from South Korea on Wednesday.
A South Korean worker for Pyxis, a company that produces jewelry cases at Kaesong, said in a phone interview that he was worried about a possible delay in production if cross-border travel is banned again.
"That would make it hard for us to bring in materials and ship out new products," said the worker, who wouldn't provide his name because of company rules.
The worker, who has been in Kaesong since Monday, said he wasn't scared.
"It's all right. I've worked and lived with tension here for eight years now. I'm used to it," he said.
Pyongyang's action was announced in a message that North Korea's chief delegate to inter-Korean military talks sent to his South Korean counterpart.
Seoul's Unification Ministry called the move an "unhelpful measure for the safe operation of the Kaesong complex."
more here: http://news.yahoo.com/north-korea-says-cut-key-military-hotline-104813809.html