South Korea suggests sending delegation to inspect Kumgangsan complex
SEOUL (The Korea Herald/ANN) - The South Korean government has proposed sending a delegation to inspect facilities at North Korea’s Kumgangsan, in its second attempt to engage the North in dialogue after the regime announced plans to demolish buildings funded by the South at the mountain.
The Unification Ministry said Wednesday it sent a letter to North Korea on Tuesday, notifying the regime that it will send a delegation comprising government officials and businesspeople for the inspection of South Korean facilities that had been used for now-suspended tours to the mountain.
“Schedules and other details related to the visit will be determined through consultations with the North,” Lee Sang-min, the ministry’s spokesperson, said in a regular press briefing.
On Oct. 28, the government proposed holding working-level talks in response to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s orders to tear down the obsolete facilities and overhaul the tourist zone. Pyongyang rejected the offer and insisted on handling the issue through the exchange of documents.
“I have to repeat that this matter should be resolved through an agreement (between the two Koreas) and that we need to seek inter-Korean meetings for discussions,” Lee said.
Hyundai Asan, the key operator of the Kumgangsan tours, will join the public-private inspection team but the inclusion of other companies has not been decided, according to the ministry.
The tour program to Kumgangsan had been regarded as a major inter-Korean cooperation project, with the accumulated number of South Korean tourists standing at nearly 2 million since its launch in 1998.
Operations of the facilities, including hotels and a golf course, were suspended in 2008, when a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier, purportedly for entering a military zone. Tour programs have not resumed since.