Paju, South Korea (CNN) - North Korea on Wednesday stirred fresh concerns in Northeast Asia, hundreds of South Koreans blocked from entering the joint industrial complex, which serves as an important symbol of cooperation between the two countries.
The move comes a day after Pyongyang announced plans to restart nuclear reactor shut down five years ago and follows weeks of bombastic threats against the United States and South Korea to the north young leader Kim Jong Un and his government.
North Korea fiery rhetoric, fueled by the recent UN sanctions over its recent nuclear test, created a tense atmosphere on the Korean peninsula, just as the United States and South Korea were engaged in joint military exercises in South Korea territory.
United States will not accept North Korea as a "nuclear state," Kerry said
Pyongyang threatened last month of possible preventive nuclear strike on the United States and South Korea caused particular alarm, despite heavy skepticism from analysts and U.S. officials that North Korea's military is anywhere near able to carry out such an attack.
The United States in turn make a show of military force in its annual training flying the Stealth B-2 bomber can carry conventional or nuclear weapons, the Cold War, B-52s and stealth fighter F-22 Raptor over South Korea.
North Korea's decision Wednesday to prevent South Korean workers and managers from entering the Castle industrial complex, which sits on the northern side of the border, but it houses operations of dozens of South Korean companies, is a tangible sign of tension between the two countries.
This is also a move that could end up hurting financially Pyongyang as Castle is considered to be an important source of hard currency for the regime of Kim.
More than 50,000 North Koreans work in the production of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of goods each year. These workers earn an average of $ 134 per month, of which North Korean authorities take about 45% in various taxes.
North threatened the weekend to shut military-industrial complex.
North Korea develops a game of chicken with the U.S.
"We are skeptical that they will close the cash cow as some recent reports suggest" Stephan Haggard, a professor in the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California, San Diego, wrote in an article published Monday.
"But if they did, the cost will be higher to the north than in the south," Haggard wrote in an article for the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Washington-based research.
Seoul said it "deeply regrets" the decision to stop the North Koreans to enter the Castle.
"North Korea's action creates a barrier to stable operation" of the complex, South Korea's unification ministry said in a statement, calling his neighbor "immediately normalize" the process of entry and exit.
And Defense Minister of South Korea Kim Kwan-Jin said military action could be taken if the safety of South Korea in the area to come under threat.
"If there is a serious situation, we are fully prepared, including the military," he told a meeting of MPs, semiofficial Yonhap South Korean agency reported.
In March 2009, also during the joint US-South Korean military drills, which he said were a threat Pyongyang closed the border, trapping hundreds of temporary workers in the South Korean industrial complex.
He allowed many stranded workers to return to South Korea the next day and again the border completely around a week later without explaining its reversal.
Hundreds of workers
It was clear Wednesday whether the new drama over Castle will play similarly.
At the beginning of the day when Northern aware that the south would prevent new entries in the complex, there are 861 South Korean workers there, according to the Ministry of the grouping. North said it would continue to allow people to leave the area.
Hundreds of workers rotate and Castle every day in a series of planned inputs and outputs. Many of them remain there for a few nights.
A total of 484 workers were registered Wednesday to enter the complex, the ministry said, and 446 were registered to leave.
During the late morning and early afternoon exit windows only a trickle of workers return to a South Korea Kaesong, far fewer than the results that have been registered to leave at that time.
Korean authorities did not immediately provide an explanation for the discrepancy, says some companies decide when to send workers back.
Kim Kyong-sin, manager of textile production company Castle, who returned to South Korea on Wednesday, said some people were staying in the resort, because "they are worried they might come back."
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