Pyongyang rejects Seoul’s dialogue offer for joint project

TOKYO, North Korea rejected South Korea’s offer for working-level talks about the fate of a long-suspended joint tour program to Mount Kumgang in the North, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Tuesday, according to Yonhap News Agency.

South Korea made the dialogue offer on Monday in a counterproposal to North Korea’s demand that Seoul remove all of its long-abandoned facilities from the mountain resort in an apparent threat to end the joint business.

“The North said that it is not necessary to hold separate working-level talks we proposed earlier and insisted on reaching an agreement (on the removal issue) through the exchange of documents,” the ministry said in a message to reporters in Seoul. “The government will draw up countermeasures on the Mount Kumgang matter in close consultation with relevant business operators with a principle that any inter-Korean issues should be resolved through dialogue and consultations,” it added.

The project was suspended in 2008 after a female tourist was shot to death by a North Korean guard. A ministry official said that the government will consider every possible measure, including sending a notice again to North Korea to propose holding working-level talks.

North Korea’s state media reported last week that the country leader Kim Jong-un toured the Mount Kumgang resort and criticized dependence on South Korea in operating the tour program there. He gave instructions for the destruction of all “unpleasant-looking” facilities built by the South. Launched in 1998, the tour program was regarded as a major inter-Korean cooperative project. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim agreed in September last year to resume the tour program and the Kaesong industrial park as soon as conditions are met.

Source: Kuwait News Agency