Seoul and Tokyo act against Pyongyang

SEOUL • South Korea said yesterday it would suspend all operations at a jointly run industrial park in North Korea to punish Pyongyang for its latest rocket launch and nuclear test.

Japan also announced fresh sanctions against North Korea yesterday, including a total ban on shipping from the country and barring Pyongyang's nationals from entering.

The South Korean and Japanese moves came a day after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun Hye spoke on the phone.

The two leaders also held separate telephone talks with US President Barack Obama to discuss strong action against North Korea in response to recent nuclear and missile tests, including a United Nations Security Council resolution that would bring new sanctions.

It was the first time Seoul had suspended operations at the Kaesong estate since it opened in 2004 as a symbol of cross-border reconciliation.

"We have decided to stop all operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex so that... our investment in the complex would not be used by the North to fund its nuclear and missile development," Mr Hong Yong Pyo, Seoul's unification minister in charge of cross-border affairs, told a press conference.

The Seoul-funded estate, which is located just 10km across the border in North Korea, has been a source of precious hard currency for the impoverished North since its opening.

Currently, 124 South Korean companies operate factories and employ some 53,000 North Korean workers there.

The latest Japanese measures include prohibiting North Korean ships from entering Japanese ports and a total entry ban on North Korean nationals into Japan.

"We have decided to take firm sanction steps," Mr Abe told reporters of the latest move, which adds to measures that Japan already has in place over past North Korean nuclear and missile tests.

The measures also toughen financial reporting requirements for people transporting cash to North Korea.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2016, with the headline 'Seoul and Tokyo act against Pyongyang'. Print Edition | Subscribe