North Korea has reportedly accused South Korea of making a “declaration of war”. The accusation comes after South Korea pulled workers out of the Kaesong industrial camp, a factory area jointly operated by the two states.
The South Korean government says that cooperation at the factory was suspended in response to a Feb. 8 rocket launch by the North.
North Korea promptly asserted that it would deport hundreds of South Korean workers from the city of Kaesong, which is inside North Korean borders, reports the Independent.
North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un’s Committee for the Peaceful Reconciliation of Korea blamed South Korea and the U.S. for the factory shutdown.
“The recent provocative measure is a declaration of an end to the last lifeline of north-south relations, total denial of the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration and a dangerous declaration of a war driving the situation in the Korean Peninsula to the brink of a war,” read a CPRK statement.
“The south Korean puppet group will experience what disastrous and painful consequences will be entailed by its action,” the statement continued.
Work reportedly came to a halt at the jointly operated industrial camp that employs 55,000 North Koreans, mostly by South Korean firms, reports Al Jazeera America. The industrial camp is the last significant symbol of cooperation between the Korean states.
Both North and South Korea reportedly bar their citizens from communicating with each other outside of the Kaesong area. South Korean snacks and goods were allegedly being smuggled into North Korea as citizens of the two countries had contact with each other.
“We piled up instant noodles, bread and drinks in our warehouse so North Korean workers could come here and eat freely,” said South Korean business owner Lee Jong-ku. “We don’t mind them eating our food, because we only care about them working hard.”
The Kaesong camp has reportedly provided the North Korean government with roughly $514 million USD since it opened in 2004. The South is reportedly concerned that revenue from the camp could be used by the North to fund missile research.