The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Breaking News

March 27, 2013

North Korea cuts last military hotline with South

(Continued)

SEOUL, South Korea —

"Under the situation where a war may break out any moment, there is no need to keep North-South military communications," he said. "North-South military communications will be cut off."

Seoul's Unification Ministry, which is in charge of relations with the North, called it an "unhelpful measure for the safe operation of the Kaesong complex."

North Korea recently also cut a Red Cross hotline with South Korea and another with the U.S.-led U.N. command at the border between the Koreas. However, three other telephone hotlines used for exchanging information about air traffic remain intact.

The line severed Wednesday has been essential in operating the last major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation from the 2000s: an industrial complex in the North managed by hundreds of workers from the South. The phone line is used to clear cross-border shipments and to arrange passage for South Koreans who commute to Kaesong.

Aside from the hotlines, there are no landline, cellphone, fax, email or mail connections between North and South Korea. Both Seoul and Pyongyang prohibit from direct contact with citizens from the other Korea without government permission.

There was no immediate word about the impact on South Korean workers who were at the Kaesong industrial complex. About 750 South Koreans were working in Kaesong on Wednesday, officials said, and that the two Koreas had normal communications earlier in the day over the hotline when South Korean workers traveled back and forth to the factory park as scheduled.

South Korean managers working in the border town could also be contacted on their South Korean cellphones from Seoul on Wednesday.

A South Korean worker for Pyxis, a company that produces jewelry cases at Kaesong, said in a phone interview that he was worried about a possible delay in production if cross-border travel is banned again.

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