DPRK to confiscate five S. Korean properties in resort area

14:11, April 23, 2010      

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The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Friday it will confiscate five South Korean-held assets inside a resort at Mount Kumgang, and will either take over its ownership or hand them over to a new business partner.

The move, announced in a statement carried by the DPRK's official Korea Central News Agency, comes after a series of similar threatening steps by Pyongyang to shut down the resort in response to what it sees as Seoul's reluctance to resume once- lucrative tour programs.

It also follows a two-day inspection by a group of DPRK military officials of the resort, which raised fears here that the country will soon take steps to put an official end to the already moribund tour programs.

The five facilities, where the DPRK previously put up "keep-out " stickers, include a Seoul-run reunion center for separated families in the two Koreas, a duty free shot, a hot spring, a culture center and a fire station.

South Korean employees at the resort will be kicked out, according to the statement.

Tours to Kumgang, which had brought nearly two million South Koreans to the scenic mountain since the tour project was launched in 1998, were indefinitely suspended after a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a DPRK soldier in 2008.

Tours to the border town of Keasong, where a once-thriving joint industrial park is located, were also suspended in the same year.

Pyongyang has called for a resumption of the tours, but Seoul insisted on addressing unresolved issues, including safety guarantees for South Korean tourists, before reopening the tours. The two sides only confirmed their differences on the issue at working-level talks earlier this year.

Source: Xinhua


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