Border blaze sees Koreas block access to industrial zone

SEOUL (AFP) - South and North Korea blocked access to their Kaesong joint industrial zone Monday after a fire broke out near a cross-border road and spread across the heavily militarised frontier, officials said.

The blaze started on the North Korean side of the demilitarised zone (DMZ) shortly after 1:00 pm (12 noon Singapore time) and spread quickly along the road leading to the industrial complex, the South's unification ministry said.

"Both sides are now trying to control the blaze after blocking access to the Kaesong industrial park," a ministry official told AFP.

Bush fires are common in the dry spring season in and near the four-kilometre-wide DMZ, which was drawn at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Some 54,000 North Korean workers are employed across 125 South Korean firms in the Kaesong complex, which first opened in 2004 as a rare symbol of cross-border cooperation and which lies just north of the border.

The two Koreas are currently locked in a row over wages in Kaesong.

Pyongyang last month announced an across-the-board raise in basic salaries - a move rejected by the South, which insisted any increase had to be agreed by a joint committee overseeing the management of the park.