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Page last updated at 09:28 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

N Korea partially reopens border

By John Sudworth
BBC News, Seoul

Kaesong Industrial Zone, South Korean vehicles leaving it 10 Mar 09
Kaesong Industrial Zone's output has been hurt by the political fall-out

North Korea has agreed to partially reopen its border to allow more than 400 stranded South Koreans to go home.

Workers at a joint industrial zone, just inside the North, have been trapped since Friday after Pyongyang shut the border without explanation.

This followed another closure a few days earlier, which it said was in retaliation for the large-scale US-South Korean military exercises.

The North has not indicated when it will reopen the border fully.

Four foreign nationals and a South Korean woman in danger of missing her wedding were allowed to return to the South on Saturday.

But more than 400 other South Koreans have had to wait until Monday to be allowed to come home.

Zone fears

The joint industrial zone, just a few kilometres inside North Korea is the last major symbol of the closer economic ties forged between the two Koreas over the past 10 years.

Other examples, including cross-border tourism projects, a freight rail link and regular government-to-government contact have all been suspended because of the North's unhappiness at what it sees as a more hostile administration in the South.

The conservative government of President Lee Myung-bak came to power last year, insisting there would be no more unconditional aid to the North unless it made more progress towards giving up its nuclear weapons programme.

There is now deep anxiety about the future of the industrial zone itself.

Almost 100 South Korean companies operate factories there, producing goods using North Korean labour and they say the disruption and uncertainty is already affecting productivity.

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