N. Korea offers talks on removing S. Korean facilities

TOKYO, North Korea has offered to discuss with South Korea its decision to remove the South-built facilities at its Mount Kumgang tourist resort, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Friday, according to Yonhap News Agency.

“North Korea sent a notice to the unification ministry earlier in the day, proposing to discuss the removal issue through exchange of documents,” the ministry said. “The government will actively cope with the matter through close consultations with relevant organizations while placing top priority on protection of our people’s property rights,” it added.

The offer came days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered the removal of all South Korea-constructed buildings through an “agreement with the relevant unit of the south side,” stressing the North should not rely on the South for a now-suspended joint tour program to the scenic mountain.

On Wednesday, North Korea’s state media reported that Kim criticized his father’s policy for depending on South Korea in running tours to the mountain and gave instructions for the destruction of all the long-abandoned “unpleasant-looking” facilities and building of its own, signaling that it would push for a tour program without outside help. Launched in 1998, the tour program to the North’s’ mountain was regarded as a major inter-Korean cooperative project.

It was suspended, however, in 2008 after a female tourist was shot to death by a North Korean guard.

South Korea invested a huge amount of money in launching the joint tour program at the scenic mountain. In September last year, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim agreed to resume the Mount Kumgang tour program as soon as conditions are met.

Little progress has since been made in the face of sanctions banning economic projects involving North Korea.

Source: Kuwait News Agency