Koreas: tension climbs on the divided peninsula

Access to the comments Comments
By Euronews  with Reuters, AFP, AP, APTN
Koreas: tension climbs on the divided peninsula

We piled up food and drinks in our warehouse so North Korean workers could come eat for free

  • South Korea shows ‘debris’
  • KRT broadcasts launch footage
  • South Korean workers leave Kaesong
  • US, Seoul and Japan agree to pool resources
  • US Senate agrees to toughen sanctions

The news

Tension is continuing to climb on the Korean peninsula.

South Korea’s Defence Ministry has shown what it says is debris from North Korea’s recent missile launch.

A statement said the three pieces of debris were retrieved on Tuesday more than 100 kilometres offshore from Ochung Island in the Yellow Sea.

News of the find comes hours after North Korea broadcast footage it said showed the launch of a long-range rocket.

North Korean leader Kim Jong un can also be seen visiting the command centre at the launch site.

However, there is no date on the footage from Korean state broadcaster, KRT.

Pyongyang says it put a satellite in orbit.

However, the West fears the launch, and a fourth nuclear test by North Korea last month, show that Pyongyang is developing its nuclear arsenal.


The crisis is also having economic consequences.

South Korean employees have begun leaving the Kaesong Industrial complex.

The government in Seoul has decided to suspend its involvement in the factory, which is just inside North Korea.

“When the industrial complex shuts down, our businesses will suffer the biggest blow but North Korean workers get hit too. They have been really worried about it,” one South Korean worker told reporters.

South Korean Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo said North Korea is suspected of using money from the complex on its nuclear weapons and long-range missile programme.

A South Korean government official is quoted as saying the decision was taken reluctantly and it is difficult to see how operations could be resumed in the near future.

What is the Kaesong complex?

Kaesong is one of the few examples of cooperation between Seoul and Pyongyang.

The complex is just on the North Korean side of the heavily-defended border between the two countries.

  • Opened in 2005
  • 54 km north-west of Seoul
  • 124 South Korean companies on site
  • Small and medium-sized businesses
  • 54,700 North Koreans employed at the site
  • Shut down for five months in 2013 due to tensions
  • Generated 110bn USD (97bn euros) in 2015
  • Average wage is 160 USD (141 euros) a month

It offers a rare opportunity for Koreans divided by the 1950-53 war to interact on a daily basis.

Except for Kaesong, both countries forbid their citizens from communicating with each other across what is the world’s most-fortified border.

Why is this happening?

  • January 6th – a fourth nuclear test by North Korea reported
  • February 7th – “long-range missile launch* reported

There is increased tension on the Korean peninsula following a rocket launch last Sunday and fourth nuclear test by North Korea last month.

South Korea has joined the US in calling for further UN sanctions against Pyongyang.

Mounting pressure on Pyongyang

  • The US, South Korea and Japan agreed late on Wednesday to share more information and coordinate security operations in the region
  • The US Senate voted unanimously on Wednesday in favour of tougher sanctions on Pyongyang
  • US and South Korea to begin formal talks on deploying the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) on the Korean peninsula at the “earliest opportunity”

What they are saying

“The test and launches are direct violations of UN resolutions and are serious provocations against the international community. We agree to firmly respond to Pyongyang’s actions through trilateral information-sharing and to coordinate and to coordinate further on mutual security issues to enhance peace and security in the region.” – Statement from Chiefs of Defense of US, South Korea and Japan.

“Putting our peoples’ safety as a top priority, our military is fully prepared to deal with any contingency which can happen in the Kaesong Industrial Complex.”Moon Sang-gyun, South Korean Defence Ministry spokesperson.

“We joked about Kaesong shutting down but I was surprised when it really happened. Personally, I feel sorry for North Koreans. They are far more worried than we are.”Kim Soo-hee, a South Korean nurse at Kaesong

“We piled up instant noodles, bread and drinks in our warehouse so North Korean workers could come eat and eat for free. We don’t mind them eating our food, we only care about them working hard.”Lee Jong-ku, electrical factory owner at Kaesong