Re-freeze of assets by North at Kumgang

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Re-freeze of assets by North at Kumgang

Just days after the tearful reunion of families separated by the Korean War at Mount Kumgang, North Korea refroze South Korean assets at the resort, government sources said yesterday.

According to the sources, North Korea froze the assets of tour manager Hyundai Asan by locking the doors of restaurants and car maintenance facilities some time between Friday evening and Saturday morning.

The North also plans, this weekend, to lock the doors of the venue used for the reunions, according to the sources. The family reunion venue is owned by the South Korean government.

The sources said it will take some time for the North to shut down the reunion venue because it is currently draining water from pipes to keep them from freezing and bursting in winter.

In April, the North froze the South Korean assets to demand that Kumgang tours resume.

Tours to North Korea came to a halt in 2008 when a South Korean tourist, Park Wang-ja, was shot and killed by a North Korean soldier at the mountain resort.

Seoul has demanded several conditions before tours can resume, including a thorough investigation into the shooting and a promise from Pyongyang that such an incident will not be repeated.

The North temporarily lifted its sanctions on the mountain resort from Oct. 30 to Nov. 5 for the family reunions.

The North Korean government is still insisting the tours resume and it has proposed working level talks to discuss the issue in Kaesong on Nov. 19, separate from Red Cross talks on Nov. 25.

Meanwhile, a South Korean unification official said the government will soon respond to the North’s proposal.

“We’re currently examining how to express the government’s position on this matter and we’ll finalize our position a few days before Nov. 19,” he said.


By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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