South Korea warns of 'military action' to protect citizens
South Korean Marines pass by K-55 self-propelled howitzers during an exercise against possible attacks by North Korea near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, Wednesday, April 3, 2013. AP Photo/Ahn Young-joonSouth Korea's defence ministry said Wednesday it had contingency plans, including possible military action, to ensure the safety of its citizens working in a joint industrial zone in North Korea.
"We have prepared a contingency plan, including possible military action, in case of a serious situation," Defence Minister Kim Kwan-Jin told ruling party MPs in a meeting.
"We should try to prevent the situation from going to the worst," Kim added.
North Korea blocked South Korean access to the Seoul-funded Kaesong joint industrial zone on Wednesday, but said it would allow the 861 South Koreans currently there to leave.
As of 2:00 pm (0500 GMT) only nine had crossed back over the border into South Korea.
The South's Unification Ministry said many had voluntarily opted to stay in Kaesong to ensure the smooth operation of their companies there.
North Korea blocks access to key industrial zone
North Korea blocked South Korean entry to a key joint industrial zone Wednesday, matching its angry rhetoric with action as Washington condemned Pyongyang's "dangerous, reckless" behaviour.
Any move on the Seoul-funded Kaesong complex -- established in 2004 and a crucial source of hard currency for North Korea -- carries enormous significance and the potential to send tensions soaring.
Neither of the Koreas has allowed previous crises to significantly affect Kaesong, the only surviving example of inter-Korean cooperation and seen as a bellwether for the stability of the Korean peninsula.
Russia worried by 'explosive' North Korea situation
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Russia today said it was worried by the "explosive" North Korea situation, saying even a simple human error could cause the crisis to spiral out of control.
"Russia has to be worried as we are talking about an explosive situation in the immediate vicinity of our Far East borders," Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov told the Interfax news agency. Mounting tensions have seen Pyongyang threaten missile and nuclear strikes against the United States and its ally South Korea in response to UN sanctions and joint military drills.
"In the current tense atmosphere, it would only need an elementary human error or technical problem for the situation to go out of control and plunge into a critical dive," Morgulov added.
Russia shares a short border with North Korea south of Vladivostok in its Far Eastern region but in the current crisis Moscow has steered clear of overt criticism of its neighbour.
"We urge all sides to refrain from any comments or actions which could further complicate the situation," said Morgulov.