North Korea Closes Border Industrial Region, Withdraws Workers

North Korea: Kaesong May Close Permanently

Further isolating the nation, North Korea has announced the immediate closure of the Kaesong Industrial Region, and has ordered some 50,000 workers to withdraw from the area.

Kaesong is an unusual case along the border between the two Koreas, with 123 South Korean companies setting up operations inside the North Korean complex to hire low-cost North Korean workers, paying the North Korean government their wages, estimated at 1/5 of those of South Koreans.

The move comes as tensions have continued to rise between the two nations, and North Korean officials say that while the move is temporary, for now, they are considering a permanent closure of the facility.

North Korea explained the move as a result of the South Korean government’s “attitude.” South Korean officials blasted the closure, adding “now is not the time for dialogue.”

The move has prompted another hit to South Korea’s stock market, but will almost certainly impact North Korea dramatically more, with 50,000 workers suddenly unemployed and no indications that their command economy has any way of absorbing them.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.