Get soldiers to action stations but keep the border factories running. These are North Korea’s priorities as the Stalinist state threatens to launch war on all enemies within reach.
The factories it operates in the Kaesong Industrial Park joint venture with its South Korean enemy are still important foreign currency earners, and so although Pyongyang ordered primary hotlines be ignored, authorities have used a separate phone to coordinate around 200 border crossings of South Koreans at the 38th parallel, which is one of the world’s highest tension zones, especially now.
One technician said: “I am a bit nervous, but it looked the same as yesterday.”
Another crosser said: “Our workers are going in. I think the third nuclear test is the tipping point. I was worried so I came out.”
Threatening war while keeping up appearances. In some parts of the world this is called ‘talking out of both sides of your mouth’. In North Korea it is because the economic show must go on, and it allowed more than 160 fuel and material trucks into the industrial park in the first part of today.
Kaesong generates Pyongyang more than one and half billion euros of income per year, reducing its charity dependence on China. Some 50,000 North Koreans work in the mostly South Korean-built plants, and most of their annual wages totalling around 62 million euros are paid to Pyongyang.
Kaesong was opened in 2004, and was supposed to symbolise reconciliation between the two Koreas. There are now 123 South Korean firms based in the border zone. Their technological and management expertise is combined with cheap and plentiful North Korean labour.