The South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said all options including military action are under consideration to ensure the safety of South Korean workers remaining in the joint industrial zone inside North Korea after the North Wednesday barred it to the entry of workers from the South. This step followed Pyongyang’s announcement of the restart of its shuttered plutonium reactor and increased production of nuclear weapons material. An official in Seoul said the workers remaining in the joint factory park, the last remaining symbol of détente, may run out of food if the ban on access is prolonged.
The joint industrial park is home to more than 100 factories producing $470m worth of goods and an important source of revenue for the North. More than 50,000 North Koreans work there, as well as several hundred South Korean managers, many of whom decided to stay after the ban for fear of not being allowed back again.