North Korea wants to redevelop iconic tourist resort

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Pyongyang intends to transform iconic Mount Kumgang tourist complex into an international tourist resort, the official North Korean news agency said on Sunday, a year after leader Kim Jong-un ordered destruction of buildings built by South Korea. .

This set, which was intended to be a symbol of economic cooperation between the two Koreas, was built by Hyundai Asan, a subsidiary of the South Korean group Hyundai.

The aim was to attract hundreds of thousands of South Korean tourists to the Mount Kumgang resort, whose name means “Diamond Mountain,” considered one of the most beautiful sites on the peninsula.

Last year, in a period of inter-Korean tension, Mr. Kim had ordered the destruction of “shabby” installations built by the South, comparing them in particular to “makeshift tents set up in a disaster area”.

The KCNA news agency said North Korean Prime Minister Kim Tok-hun had visited the area and stressed “the need to rebuild the resort in our own way”, in order to make it “a tourist complex envied by the whole world ”.

The Prime Minister called for transforming the site into a “modern tourist resort of international dimension”.

This tourist complex was one of the two most important inter-Korean projects along with the Kaesong industrial complex, closed since 2016, in which South Korean companies employed labor from the North.

Located near the Inter-Korean border, Mount Kumgang was a tourist destination for South Koreans until in 2008, a North Korean soldier shot dead a woman who had strayed from authorized areas. Visits have since been suspended by Seoul.

North Korea has long wanted this lucrative business to resume, but now it would violate international economic sanctions imposed on Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile program.

In June, Pyongyang destroyed the inter-Korean liaison office located on its soil and funded by Seoul, one of the symbols of detente on the peninsula, saying it had no interest in negotiating.

“Mr. Kim’s regime will struggle to find the necessary resources to redevelop Mount Kumgang and needs external investment, but by doing so, it means that it places less importance on its South Korean partners,” he said. esteemed Leif-Eric Easley, professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

For him, it is also for Mr. Kim a way of putting pressure on the administration of the South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, in order to reconnect with the financial fallout from the South.

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