Kaesong standoff should be resolved through dialogue: minister

South Korea's unification minister said Thursday he hopes North Korea will immediately come to the negotiating table to discuss the normalization of a suspended inter-Korean industrial complex in the North's border town of Kaesong.

On Tuesday, operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex ground to a halt as North Korean laborers failed to show up for work, a day after Pyongyang threatened to withdraw all of its workers and suspend operations.

"The Koreas should discuss ways of normalizing the industrial park through dialogue," Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said in a hurriedly called press conference. "Pyongyang should come to the bargaining table immediately."

The suspension of the complex -- a symbol of inter-Korean cooperation and reconciliation -- does not help the future of the Korean people and is causing severe pain to South Korean firms and workers there, said Ryoo, Seoul's top official in charge of handling affairs with Pyongyang.