North Korea warns foreigners living in South Korea to leave in case of war.
THE GUARDIAN: As the world waits to see if North Korea launches a ballistic missile, the regime has attempted to raise tensions further, warning foreigners living in South Korea to make evacuation plans because the peninsula is on the brink of war.
"We do not wish harm on foreigners in South Korea should there be a war," the official KCNA news agency quoted an official from a North Korean organisation calling itself Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee as saying.
The KCNA report did not offer details and there are reportedly no signs of a military buildup near the border dividing the Korean peninsula, located less than 40 miles from the South Korean capital, Seoul.
Analysts noted that Pyongyang had issued similar threats in the past, adding that this latest warning is designed to elicit aid and political concessions from Seoul and Washington.
Amid the bluster of recent weeks – during which the North has threatened to launch a nuclear attack on the US – the regime appears to have made good on its threat to withdraw its workers from the Kaesong industrial complex.
None of the 53,000 North Korean workers at the site, located just north of the border, arrived for work on Tuesday morning – a day after Pyongyang accused the South of turning the jointly run zone into "a hotbed of war".
The suspension of all operations at the site momentarily shifted attention from North Korea's east coast where, according to reports, preparations were being made to test launch at least one medium-range missile, possibly as early as Wednesday.
In response, Japan deployed PAC-3 missile interceptors in Tokyo on Tuesday. Japan's self-defence forces are under orders to shoot down any incoming North Korean missiles; Tokyo has also deployed two Aegis destroyers equipped with sea-based interceptor missiles in the Sea of Japan.
The two missiles, thought to be the untested Musudan, have a maximum range of 2 485 miles, putting South Korea, Japan and US bases on Guam within reach.
The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said his government would take "every possible measure to protect the lives and safety of the Japanese people".
The closure of Kaesong, the last symbol of rapprochement between the two Koreas, marks a serious deterioration in cross-border ties. The move is also a sign of how far the North's leader, Kim Jong-un, may be prepared to go to foment crisis on the peninsula, given that a prolonged closure would deprive his regime of an important source of hard currency.
South Korea's president, Park Geun-hye, described the suspension as "very disappointing" and said investors would now shun the North.
"Investment is all about being able to anticipate results and trust and when you have the North breaking international regulations and promises like this and suspending Kaesong while the world is watching, no country in the world will invest in the North," Park told a cabinet meeting.
"North Korea should stop behaving in this way and make the right choice for the future of the Korean nation."
South Korean firms have invested an estimated $500m (£327m) in the site since it opened in 2004. The complex generates about $96m for the North Korean economy every year.
About 475 South Korean workers and factory managers remain in Kaesong, with 77 expected to return across the border on Tuesday.
The warning to foreign residents in the South comes a week after North Korea told overseas embassies in Pyongyang that they should consider evacuating staff, warning their safety could not be guaranteed if war breaks out. No embassies are thought to have acted on the advice.