North Korea rebuked South Korea on Wednesday for refusing to raise wages for North Korean workers at their joint industrial park, claiming that the North has a legal right to decide the issue.
The North's criticism came as it rescinded its approval of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's planned visit to the Gaeseong Industrial Complex this week.
Many expected the U.N. chief's trip to help resolve stand-offs between the two Koreas, including the wage row at the complex, where about 53,000 North Korean workers are employed there by 124 South Korean firms.
South and North Korea have been embroiled in a drawn-out dispute following North Korea's unilateral decision to hike wages by 5.18 percent for its workers. Seoul has rejected the North's move, saying that the North violated a 2004 agreement that calls for the two sides to set wages together.
North Korea's key propaganda website, Uriminjokkiri, argued that the South is trying to "destroy" the operation of the complex.
"The South is sticking to an undue argument over the wage row and putting pressure on the companies with factories at the complex (not to pay the wage)," it said. "This is South Korea's deliberate strategy to destroy the Gaeseong project."
The North stressed that the South should accept its demand for the wage payment, claiming that its unilateral move to raise the wage is a proper exercise of its legislative rights.
Seoul had requested its companies not to send out March paychecks, vowing to punish violators. Despite the warning, about 50 South Korean companies have paid March wages to the North's workers apparently after threats from the North.
The 10-day period for paying wages for April began Sunday, signaling more tension between the two Koreas, experts said. (Yonhap)