North Korea boasted of the beauty of the scenic spots on Mount Kumgang on the east coast in a rare posting on its tourism website on Sunday, days after leader Kim Jong-un ordered the removal of all South Korean facilities established there for the joint tour program.
The posting by an apparent state-controlled travel agency highlighted the importance of preservation of the ecological environment in the scenic spots when it comes to protecting and maintaining the sites.
"Mount Kumgang, which is famous for its global reputation, boasts of its unique rocks rising like saw blades, countless waterfalls pouring down like rainbows and beautiful ecological sightseeing spots in harmony with various animals and shades of green trees like a beautiful picture," it said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Yonhap)
Defining ecotourism as "tourism that helps tourists to preserve the ecological environment while experiencing the ecosystem," the posting praised the "Wonsan-Mount Kumgang international tourism zone as a place where these conditions are preserved to its best."
"Laws and regulations related to various economic development zones, environmental protection laws and regulations are enacted, and legal collateral for ecotourism development and operation is firmly guaranteed," it said.
The promotional message comes after the North Korean leader on Oct. 23 ordered the removal of all South Korea-constructed "unpleasant-looking" buildings at an agreed-upon date with the South.
Kim criticized his late father's policy for depending on South Korea in running tours to the mountain and signaled that Pyongyang would push for a tour program without outside help.
The North has insisted the matter be discussed through documents only, rejecting Seoul's call for face-to-face talks.
Experts view Kim's demand as illustrating his frustration with the stalled inter-Korean project amid international sanctions in place against Pyongyang.
Launched in 1998, the tour program to the North's mountain was regarded as a major inter-Korean cooperative project. It was suspended in 2008 after a female South Korean tourist was shot to death by a North Korean guard.
Seoul has said it's been reviewing "creative solutions" to propose to the North, including individual visits to the mountain to prevent the complete closure of the joint project.
South Korea invested a huge amount of money in launching the joint tour program at the scenic mountain. Hyundai Asan Corp., a South Korean firm that owns a 50-year license for its operation, spent about 800 billion won ($683.18 million) in constructing buildings and facilities necessary for the project. (Yonhap)