North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said South Korean facilities in the North’s Mt Kumgang tourist resort must be removed and rebuilt in a modern way, state media reported on Wednesday, underscoring the cooling of relations between the two countries, reports Trend referring to Reuters.
Mt Kumgang was one of two major inter-Korean economic projects, along with the Kaesong industrial zone, and an important token of cooperation between the two Koreas during decades of hostilities following the Korean War.
But Kim, while inspecting the tourist spot on the east coast of North Korea, said it was a “mistaken idea” for Mt Kumgang to be viewed as a symbol of North-South relations.
The resort is North Korean soil, and tourism there must not be under the control of South Korea, Kim said.
“We will always welcome our compatriots from the south if they want to come to Mt Kumgang after it is wonderfully built as the world-level tourist destination,” Kim added.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry in charge of inter-Korean affairs said it was examining the North’s intentions.
“If there’s any request from the North, we’re always willing to hold discussions from the aspects of protecting our citizens’ property rights, the spirit of inter-Korean agreements and the resumption of tours to Mt. Kumgang,” ministry spokesman Lee Sang-min told a briefing on Wednesday.
North and South Korea had been exploring the prospect of re-starting joint economic projects before a recent cooling in relations. North Korea has criticized the South for adopting high-tech weapons and continuing joint military drills with the United States.