Mt. Kumgang, Kaesong tourism deals threatened

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Mt. Kumgang, Kaesong tourism deals threatened

North Korea threatened yesterday to shred the inter-Korean contracts on tourism to Mount Kumgang and Kaesong, accusing South Korea of blocking the tour programs.

“If the South Korean government continues to block the travel route while making false accusations, we will be left with no choice but to take extreme measures,” an unidentified spokesman for the North’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee said in a statement carried by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency.

The Unification Ministry responded by saying the tours may only resume after the complete resolution of safety issues, adding that such resolution must come about “through dialogue and cooperation.”

The North’s statement said that “world-class” tourist sites can no longer be neglected and that South Korean tourists’ safety will be “completely guaranteed.”

The two Koreas met in early February to discuss resumption of the tours but walked away with nothing. At the meeting, the North proposed Kaesong tours resume on March 1 and the Mount Kumgang tours on April 1. The South didn’t respond. The North asked to meet again in February but the South delegation countered that the North should first reconsider the South Korean demands for safety assurances. The tours were suspended in the summer of 2008 after a South Korean female tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier after entering the military zone near Mount Kumgang.

By Yoo Jee-ho []
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