The resort – once a symbol of inter-Korean economic cooperation – was built by Hyundai Asan of South Korea on one of North Korea’s most scenic mountains, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors from the South.
But last year, Kim condemned the development with South Korea as an eyesore and described the facilities there as “shabby” and built as “makeshift tents in a disaster area or isolated neighborhoods” , ordering their withdrawal.
On Sunday, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Kim Tok Hun, Prime Minister of North Korea, had stressed “the need to build the tourist area our way” to make it a “envied cultural resort. by the whole world ”, during his visit to the region.
He also called for moving forward to transform the region into a modern, all-inclusive international tourist resort, he added.
The Mount Kumgang Complex was once one of the two largest inter-Korean projects, with the now closed Kaesong Industrial Complex, where companies in the South employed North Korean workers while paying Pyongyang for their services.
But his tours ended abruptly in 2008 after a North Korean soldier shot down a South Korean tourist who had strayed from an approved path and Seoul suspended his trip.
The recluse North Korea has long wanted to resume lucrative visits, but now would violate international sanctions imposed on Pyongyang for its nuclear and ballistic weapons programs – although South Korean President Moon Jae-in has long defended the engagement with Pyongyang.
In June, North Korea blew up a liaison office with South Korea on its side of the border – paid for by Seoul – saying it had no interest in talks.
“The Kim regime will struggle to find the resources to redevelop Mount Kumgang and needs external investment, but it signals that it will demote South Korean partners and stakeholders,” said Leif-Eric Easley, professor. at Ewha University in Seoul.
“By jeopardizing Seoul’s hopes of engagement, Kim is pressuring the Moon administration to find ways to take back the financial benefits for the North.”