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(LEAD) S. Korea to continue punishing N. Korea despite threats: official

All Headlines 11:06 May 26, 2010

By Sam Kim
(ATTN: UPDATES throughout)

SEOUL, May 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will continue to carry out its retaliatory measures against North Korea for the sinking of its warship, despite Pyongyang's announcement that the communist state will sever all ties with Seoul, an official here said Wednesday.

Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung also said in a briefing that Pyongyang notified the South it was cutting off its hotline with South Korea at their truce village as well as their maritime communication links.

North Korea said late Tuesday it would end dialogue with Seoul for the remainder of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's tenure and expel personnel from a joint consultative office in Kaesong.

The measures came after South Korea announced a gamut of actions to punish North Korea for the deadly March 26 sinking of the warship Cheonan, which Pyongyang denies attacking.

"Even though the North should apologize and prosecute those responsible (for the sinking,) it has again taken measures undermining inter-Korean relations," Chun said. "The South will deal with these North Korean threats unwaveringly and sternly."

Chun said the North had yet to make any move that would signal the expulsion of South Korean personnel from a joint consultative office in Kaesong. North Korea had expelled about a dozen South Korean officials from the joint industrial park in March 2008 when relations between the divided sides started to deteriorate.

About 110 South Korean firms operate in Kaesong, employing 42,000 North Korean workers. Despite Pyongyang's earlier announcement that it would sever all communication lines with Seoul, the North used a military line on the western side of the Demilitarized Zone earlier in the day to approve entry of South Korean workers into Kaesong, Chun said.


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