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[SEOUL] South Korea plans to withdraw all of its companies from a jointly run industrial complex in the North Korean border town of Gaeseong, according to a parliamentary official familiar with the discussions.
The move is in response to the Kim Jong Un regime's recent nuclear test and rocket launch, said the official, who asked not to be named because the plan has yet to be announced.
The government in Seoul will set up a task force to ensure the safe return of South Korean workers, and provide financial compensation to the companies involved, the official said.
The withdrawal would end operations at the Gaeseong Industrial Complex that has produced more than US$3.1 billion of goods since 2005. The factory park housed 124 South Korean companies and employed about 54,000 North Korean workers as of late last year, according to the website of South Korea's Unification Ministry.
Considered the last remaining symbol of cooperation between the two countries, the complex has been a source of hard currency for the isolated regime. South Korea's plan underscores that President Park Geun Hye's patience is running out despite her hopes for eventual unification as a source of economic prosperity for the peninsula.