South Korea issued a warning to North Korea Friday as Pyongyang’s online propaganda mouthpiece suggested the reclusive state had restarted an inter-Korean industrial complex once seen as a symbol of cooperation.
Seoul's Unification Ministry said the North “should refrain from infringing on property rights of South Korean companies”, according to Yonhap News Agency.
North Korea’s Uriminzokkiri website claimed earlier in the day that Seoul should not “interfere” with the Kaesong complex because it lies within the North’s territory.
Before the park was shut down last year, more than 120 South Korean companies were employing around 55,000 North Koreans at the joint facility which first opened in 2004 just north of their border.
Seoul ordered its firms out in February 2016 following the North’s fourth ever nuclear test, prompting Pyongyang to freeze Kaesong’s South Korean assets.
But there was hope the Koreas might be able to reconcile such differences after May’s inauguration of the South’s President Moon Jae-in, who vowed to restart the Kaesong complex.
Pyongyang continued developing nuclear weapons rather than come forward for dialogue, however, and now the two sides could be on a collision course with the North appearing to confirm reports that it has already brought Kaesong back to life on its own, or will do so.
North Korea is under stronger economic pressure in the wake of new global sanctions imposed last month.