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S. Korea rejects DPRK's threatened disposal of properties


16:42, August 22, 2011

SEOUL, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- South Korea said Monday it will not accept unilateral measures announced by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to dispose of all South Korean properties at a mountain resort jointly managed by the two Koreas.

In a statement carried by the state media, the DPRK said that it believes South Korea "totally abandoned the protection of property and interests of enterprises" and vowed to dispose of all South Korean assets at the Mount Kumgang resort.

The DPRK also ordered all South Koreans to leave the mountain resort within 72 hours.

The measures, following Pyongyang's seizure of South Korean- owned properties, are seen as Pyongyang's response to Seoul's reluctance to resume the suspended tours, once a rare source of hard currency for the cash-strapped country.

The assets subject to the planned disposal, including restaurants and a golf course, are believed to be worth 325.5 million U.S. dollars. Previous visits to the resort by South Korean businessmen at the request of the DPRK failed to break the impasse over the threatened disposal.

"The government cannot accept North Korea (DPRK)'s arbitrary measures, and we'd like to make it clear the North should be held responsible for all consequences," Chun Hae-sung, spokesman for the unification ministry in Seoul, told reporters.

"The government will seek all necessary measures including legal and diplomatic ones, and will stay in close contact with business operators involved," he added, calling Pyongyang's announcement "regrettable." The ministry oversees inter-Korean affairs.

The lucrative tours to the scenic mountain just north of the border between the two Koreas, launched in 1998 amid a growing rapprochement, were suspended in 2008 after a South Korean tourist was shot dead for alleged intrusion of a restricted military zone.

Seoul has refused to reopen the tours without a proper investigation into the incident and safety guarantees, with the unification ministry recently saying the tragedy lies "at the core of the current dispute."

Pyongyang, claiming it has done enough, terminated in April its exclusive deal with Hyundai Asan, a Seoul-based tour operator, and announced its plan to develop the area into a special zone for international tours.

Hyundai Asan officials on Monday reportedly called on the DPRK authorities to withdraw the measures and urged the two Koreas to resume the ill-fated tours. The company, part of South Korean conglomerate Hyundai Group, had invested tens of millions of dollars into the project.

Fourteen South Koreans at the resort area are expected to return home by Wednesday.


Leave your comment1 comments

  1. Name

Anthony at 2011-08-2399.251.111.*
DPRK, how unfortunate that you have made such a decision! How do you expect to have a united Korea when you treat your neighbours to the south this way? Please re-think your decision!

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