PAJU, South Korea (AP) — The latest on tensions between North and South Korea following North Korea's rocket launch (all times local):
Hours after North Korea ordered a military takeover of a jointly run factory park that had been the last major symbol of cooperation with Seoul, a group of South Korean workers has begun leaving the facility.
Some wore masks over their faces to avoid a throng of reporters at the border crossing.
One worker said he believes all of the remaining South Koreans have now left the Kaesong industrial park. The Yonhap news agency reported that all 281 remaining workers have left.
North Korea has called Seoul's earlier suspension of operations at the jointly run facility — punishment for the North's recent rocket launch — a "dangerous declaration of war."
Well after the deadline set by North Korea for South Korean workers to leave the joint factory park passed, South Koreans told The Associated Press by phone that they had been instructed to wait for further instructions from South Korean officials.
Some South Korean workers left the Kaesong industrial complex in the North before the North's expulsion order, and a handful of others were seen leaving afterward, but South Korean officials didn't know what would happen to its nationals who had not departed by Pyongyang's 5:30 p.m. (Seoul time) deadline. They also didn't how many remained at the factories. South Korea said it would ban reporters from the border crossing on Friday.
A manager at a South Korean apparel company at the complex, who declined to give his name, said he and one other South Korean at his company were waiting in an office for word about when they could leave.
He said he was not sure whether he would return to the South on Thursday. He said he did not see any North Korean officials and did not know whether other South Koreans were there.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency says the military buildup along the western portion of the border with North Korea is a measure to counter any provocation from its rival.
The report didn't elaborate.
The Defense Ministry says it cannot confirm the report, which cited an unidentified military official.
The reported military buildup Thursday came after the North Korean decision to expel South Koreans from a joint factory park.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency is reporting that South Korea has bolstered military readiness along the western portion of the Koreas' border after the North Korean decision to expel South Koreans from a joint factory park.
Seoul's Defense Ministry says it cannot confirm the report, which cited an unidentified military official.
The report gave no other details.
North Korea also said Thursday it was also pulling all its workers from the Kaesong complex just across the tense border in response to the South's suspension of operations there following North Korea's long-range rocket launch on Sunday.
The North further said it was shutting down two crucial cross-border communications hotlines.