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North Korea to rebuild flagship resort

North Korea to rebuild flagship resort

Pyongyang plans to remodel its iconic Mount Kumgang resort into an international resort, a year after leader Kim Jong Un ordered the demolition of buildings built by South Korea, state media reported Sunday.

The complex, which was once a prominent symbol of inter-Korean economic cooperation, was built by South Korea's Hyundai Asan on one of the North's most picturesque mountains, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors from the South.

But last year, Kim condemned the development with the south as an eyesore, describing the facilities there as "in disrepair" and constructed as "makeshift tents in a disaster-stricken area or isolation pavilions," and ordered its elimination.

On Sunday, Korea's Central News Agency reported that Kim Tok Hun, North Korean Prime Minister, highlighted "the need to build the tourist area in our own way" to make it a "cultural center envied by everyone" during his visit. . to the area.

He also called for moving forward to turn the area into a "modern and all-inclusive" international resort, he added.

The Mount Kumgang complex was once one of the two largest inter-Korean projects, along with the now-closed Kaesong Industrial Complex, where companies from the south employed North Korean workers while paying Pyongyang for their services.

But their tours came to an abrupt end in 2008 after a North Korean soldier shot dead a tourist from the South who deviated from an approved road, and Seoul suspended tours.

The lonely North has long wanted to resume lucrative visits, but would now violate international sanctions imposed on Pyongyang for its nuclear and ballistic weapons programs, though South President Moon Jae-in has long defended the commitment to Pyongyang.

In June, the North blew up a South liaison office on its side of the border, paid for by Seoul, saying it had no interest in the talks.

"The Kim regime will struggle to find the resources to rebuild Mount Kumgang and needs external investment, but it is indicating that it will degrade South Korean partners and stakeholders," said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul

"By jeopardizing Seoul's hopes of compromising, Kim is pressuring the Moon administration to find ways to resume financial benefits for North Korea."

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