KOREA NEWS S. Korea slams N. Korea for removing debris from...

S. Korea slams N. Korea for removing debris from now-destroyed joint liaison office

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SEOUL, Dec. 8 (Yonhap) — The unification ministry on Friday called on North Korea to “immediately” stop its work on removing debris from a now-destroyed inter-Korean joint liaison office in the North, saying it violates South Korea’s property rights.

The ministry said it has detected signs that since late November, North Korea has been removing debris from the inter-Korean liaison office in the North’s border city of Kaesong that Pyongyang blew up in 2020.

North Korea appears to be also operating some 30 South Korean-owned factories at the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the namesake city without authorization, up from around 10 facilities in May, the government said.

The ministry in charge of inter-Korean affairs called on North Korea to “immediately” stop the acts that violate the property rights of the South Korean owners.

A set of images captured from footage of North Korea’s Central Television on June 17, 2020, shows the North’s demolition of an inter-Korean liaison office in the North’s border town of Kaesong the previous day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

“Despite our repeated urging and warnings, North Korea has continued to infringe on our property rights by using South Korean firms’ equipment at the industrial complex without authorization and proceeding with the (debris) demolition work on the liaison office,” Koo Byoung-sam, spokesperson at the ministry, told a press briefing.

The official warned of possible legal actions against Pyongyang’s illegal activity.

In 2020, North Korea blew up the joint liaison office located in the Kaesong complex in anger over Seoul’s failure to stop North Korean defectors from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.

The ministry did not make an assessment of North Korea’s intent for removing the debris, which had been mostly left intact for three years after the destruction. But it could be related to North Korea’s move to expand its unauthorized use of the industrial complex.

In June, the ministry filed a lawsuit in the Seoul Central District Court seeking compensation from North Korea over the 44.7 billion won (US$34.2 million) in damages incurred on the South Korean-built joint liaison office.

South Korea shut down the industrial complex, once a symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation, in February 2016 in response to the North’s nuclear and long-range missile tests.

This file photo, taken March 13, 2023, shows the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a joint industrial park in the North's border city of Kaesong. (Yonhap)

This file photo, taken March 13, 2023, shows the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a joint industrial park in the North’s border city of Kaesong. (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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