South Korean workers, who arrived at the North Korean border to cross into their workplace in Kaesong, were turned back on Wednesday (April 3rd) as North Korea suspended their entry to the joint industrial zone.

North Korea on Wednesday closed access to a joint factory zone that earns 2 billion U.S. dollars a year in trade for the impoverished state but will allow hundreds of South Koreans to return home, officials said, allaying fears they could have been held hostage.

Factories in the Kaesong Industrial Park were still believed to be operating, but North Korea's decision to block entry is a further sign of the growing tensions on the Korean peninsula. On Tuesday, Pyongyang said it would restart a mothballed nuclear reactor.

Most of the workers left the border and went home as the suspension of the entry was confirmed.

The industrial park has not formally stopped operations since it was inaugurated in August 2000 as part of efforts to improve ties between the two Koreas. It houses 123 companies and is staffed by 50,000 North Koreans and hundreds of South Korean business owners and managers.

More than 800 South Koreans had stayed overnight in the park, just north of the world's most heavily armed border. South Korea's Unification Ministry demanded the park be opened.

Presented by Adam Justice