Last S. Koreans in N. Korean industrial zone return home

The last seven South Korean personnel at an inter-Korean industrial complex in the North's border town of Kaesong returned to the South on Friday, wrapping up the pullout from the complex.

South Korea's Unification Ministry said the South Koreans crossed the border at around 6:43 p.m. after reaching an agreement on the payment of outstanding wages to North Korean workers earlier in the day, according to Yonhap News Agency. The two sides also agreed on the amount of taxes that South Korean companies owed Pyongyang.

The return took place after two South Korean vehicles carrying cash reached Kaesong, according to the report.

On Tuesday, 43 of the last 50 workers and managers left the industrial park that started operations in 2004. The remaining seven stayed to deal with settlements of March pay for North Korean workers at the industrial complex and tax payments by South Korean companies.

About 800 South Korean managers and delivery staff had been in the industrial zone before the North pulled out its 53,000 laborers from the zone and prevented the entry of South Korean staff and industrial materials last month.

The team of seven was led by Hong Yang Ho, chairman of the Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee.

Upon returning to the South, Hong said that he expected there to be talks with the North Korean side through a number of channels in a bid to normalize operations at the industrial park.

South Korea announced last Friday that it would withdraw all its people after the North ignored the deadline for talks aimed at normalizing operations in the zone.

The joint project, combining South Korean capital and expertise with North Korean labor and land, had been the last remaining symbol of economic cooperation between the two Koreas.