North Korea refuses to meet South Korea

North Korea on Tuesday overruled Seoul’s request for talks to deliberate the possible demolition of South Korean-made hotels and other amenities at the North’s Diamond Mountain resort that Kim Jong Un wants detached.

In letters written to Seoul’s unification ministry and South Korea’s Hyundai business group, North Korea stated face-to-face meetings would be needless and repeated its stance that particulars should be worked out through document exchanges, the ministry stated.

North Korean leader Kim has lambasted the resort constructed by Hyundai on one of the peninsula’s most scenic mountains, labelling the facilities as “a hotchpotch with no national appeal at all” and “like makeshift tents in a disaster-stricken expanse or isolation wards”. 

Tours to the valued location were a major symbol of cooperation between the Koreas and an appreciated cash source for the North’s broken economy before the South adjourned them in 2008 after a North Korean guard lethally shot a South Korean tourist who had wandered innocently into a military area.

When South Korean tourists were permitted to visit the mountain beginning in 1998, several South Korean firms comprising Hyundai and Ananti Inc invested in the scheme.

“The government will closely work together with business operators on the Mt Kumgang tourism issue and draw up counter-measures on the belief that all issues of inter-Korean ties should be decided through discussion and consultation,” the unification ministry stated.

Seoul cannot resume mass tours to Diamond Mountain or any other main inter-Korean economic activity without disobeying US-led international agreements against North Korea, which have been strengthened since 2016 when the North began hurrying its nuclear and missile tests.