South Korea mulls repairing old facilities at Mount Kumgang resort

This combined image, released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Oct. 23, 2019, shows the Mount Kumgang resort on the east coast, which North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently inspected. Kim ordered the removal of all South Korea-built facilities at the once jointly run tourist spot, according to the KCNA (Yonhap)

This combined image, released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Oct. 23, 2019, shows the Mount Kumgang resort on the east coast, which North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently inspected. Kim ordered the removal of all South Korea-built facilities at the once jointly run tourist spot, according to the KCNA (Yonhap)

Seoul: South Korea is considering repairing facilities it built at the Mount Kumgang resort on North Korea’s east coast amid Pyongyang’s threat to end their long-suspended joint tour project at the mountain, the unification ministry said Friday.

Last month, North Korea demanded South Korea remove all its facilities at the scenic resort, saying that it will build a new international tourist destination of its own.

Noting that the two Koreas remain far apart over the issue, ministry deputy spokesperson Kim Eun-han said the government is mulling repairing old facilities such as those at the Kosong port near the mountain resort to resume the tour project.

The Kosong port was part of areas North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected when he visited the Mount Kumgang tourist zone last month and ordered the removal of all the South’s “unpleasant-looking” facilities.

“We are in close consultations with business operators about this idea,” the deputy spokesperson told a regular press briefing.

It is unclear whether Pyongyang will welcome the proposal, though.

Following Kim’s order, South Korea has been insisting on holding face-to-face talks to resolve the issue through dialogue, but North Korea sent an ultimatum earlier this month, warning that it would take steps to pull down the buildings if Seoul does not tear them down itself.

Launched in 1998, the Mount Kumgang tour program was regarded as a key symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation and economic cooperation until it was suspended in 2008 after a South Korean tourist was shot dead near the resort for allegedly trespassing in an off-limits area. About 2 million tourists visited the mountain while the program operated.

YONHAP

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