AS-Koreas-Tensions 3rdLd-Writethru 11-12
South Korea border to close
North Korea said today it will ban land crossings at its border with South Korea starting next month because of what it calls the South’s confrontational stance.
The North’s military is taking action to "restrict and cut off all the overland passage" across the frontier beginning Dec. 1, the country’s official Korean Central News Agency said. The move comes amid heightened tensions on the peninsula and repeated accusations from the North that Seoul’s conservative government is engaging in "confrontational" activities.
Prohibiting passage through the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas primarily would affect South Koreans working in an inter-Korean business complex in Kaesong and tours to the ancient city just across the border in the North.
South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyeon expressed regret over the North’s decision. He said the threat would have a negative influence on reconciliation efforts on the divided peninsula.
The Kaesong industrial complex, where South Korean companies have set up 88 factories employing some 35,000 North Koreans, has been a key source of hard currency for the impoverished North.
The North recently has stepped up the rhetoric against the South, warning that it will attack South Korea and reduce it to "debris" if Seoul continues what it says are confrontational activities against the communist country.
The two Koreas fought a brutal three-year war that ended in 1953 in a truce, not a peace treaty. The two Koreas, technically still at war, remain divided by one of the world’s most heavily fortified borders.