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Pyongyang demands Seoul tear down inter-Korean resort facilities

Inter-Korean resort town near Kumgangsan in North Korea (KCNA-Yonhap)
Inter-Korean resort town near Kumgangsan in North Korea (KCNA-Yonhap)
North Korea asked South Korea through the inter-Korean liaison office in December to tear down buildings at the inter-Korean resort town on the east coast near Kumgangsan, Seoul officials familiar with the matter said Thursday. Pyongyang requested Seoul do so by February this year.

“I can’t confirm anything at the moment because the matter is under consultation between the two Koreas,” one official said. “On the matter of the resort, our position is that those in charge from Seoul and Pyongyang should resolve differences at face-to-face meeting.”

But, North Korea has refused to meet with South Korea on the matter despite Seoul’s repeated attempts to draw Pyongyang to the table. President Moon Jae-in, who is eager to seek a breakthrough in stalled inter-Korean talks, suggested resuming “individual tourism” to the North’s scenic spot to improve ties.

Moon’s push to reset strained inter-Korean relations hit a stumbling block when US Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris urged Seoul to consult with Washington on potential inter-Korean projects. Harris suggested the two allies discuss the inter-Korean exchange at a separate meeting.

The rift between the two allies worsened when the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, responded to Harris, saying South Korea was a sovereign country that dictates terms of engagement with North Korea. The ministry called on the North to discuss the tourism zone.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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