North agrees to meet with South on Mt. Kumgang

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North agrees to meet with South on Mt. Kumgang

North Korea decided yesterday afternoon to comply with Seoul’s request for talks over South Korean assets held hostage at Mount Kumgang, which the South made last Friday.

Pyongyang had kept silent until 3 p.m. yesterday, agreeing to meet with South Korean officials and contractors tomorrow at the Mount Kumgang resort.

The South Korean Ministry of Unification said last Friday that it had sent a request to North Korea’s Guidance Bureau for Comprehensive Development of Scenic Spots to hold talks “at a location and time of their choice.” Upon the North’s official answer yesterday, the ministry said it would send a 14-man team on Wednesday, including five government officials.

Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung also noted that yesterday was the third anniversary of the death of Park Wang-ja, the 53-year-old female tourist who was shot and killed by a North Korean soldier while on a tour to Mount Kumgang.

“I would like to offer condolences to Park once more today,” said Chun. “On this note, North Korea should immediately stop unilaterally infringing on the property rights of our contractors by freezing, confiscating or clearing out assets. They should show a sincere change of attitude to resolve the tourism issue of Mount Kumgang and also to have better relations with the South.”

This is the latest in the exchanges the two Koreas have had recently without coming to a solution on the matter. The North had demanded South Korean contractors visit North Korea to “discuss clearing out” their assets and a joint group of government officials and private business owners entered the North on June 29.

The group was sent back within a matter of hours that day, saying North Korea had refused to speak about the Mount Kumgang issue with government officials present.

On the same day, North Korea issued a threat to Seoul, demanding that “all South Korean owners of property in Mount Kumgang should come up with measures to settle their assets and visit the North by July 13.

“Those who do not visit by then will be regarded as giving up their assets and will be dealt with legally,” the statement said.

The South Korean government, which has continued holding discussions with private property owners in the South, has been firm that it would be “inappropriate” for government officials not to accompany the contractors on visits to the North.

South Korean assets at the mountain resort are estimated to be worth around 300 billion won ($283 million).

By Christine Kim []

한글 관련 기사 [연합]

남북, 금강산 재산권 13일 협의키로

北 ‘13일 금강산서 협의하자’…정부 명단통보

통일부는 11일 북한이 금강산 재산권 문제와 관련한 우리 측 민관합동협의단의 `협의` 제의에 "13일 금강산에서 협의하자"는 공식 입장을 전달해왔다고 밝혔다.

통일부는 북측 명승지종합개발지도국이 이날 오후 3시 금강산 현지에 있는 현대아산 사업소를 통해 구두로 "공식 입장"이라며 이같이 통보해왔다고 전했다.

통일부는 이에 따라 서두현 사회문화교류과장을 단장으로 하는 당국자 5명과 현대아산 관계자와 금강산지구기업협의회 회장 등 업체 대표 5명, 행정지원 인력 4명 등 총 14명의 방북단 명단을 북측에 통보했다.

정부 측 인사에는 법무부 소속 검사 1명과 문화체육관광부 관계자 1명도 포함됐다.

통일부는 "이번 협의기회를 통해 금강산 관광지구 내 우리 업체의 재산권 문제와 관련한 북측의 입장을 정확히 확인하고 우리 국민의 재산권 보호를 위해 최대한 노력을 다할 계획"이라고 밝혔다.

북측은 지난달 29일 "7월13일까지 금강산에 재산을 가진 남측의 모든 당사자가 재산 정리안을 연구해서 현지에 들어올 것과 그때까지 들어오지 않는 대상에 대해서는 재산권을 포기한 것으로 인정하고 해당한 법적 처분을 할 것"이라고 밝힌 바 있다.

지난해 4월 남측 재산에 대해 몰수ㆍ동결 조치를 취한 데 이어 `재산 정리` 카드까지 뽑아든 것이다.

이에 대해 정부는 8일 오후 민관합동협의단 명의로 북측 명승지종합개발지도국에 통지문을 보내 "7월13일 우리 측 지역 또는 북측이 편리한 시기와 장소에서 금강산 관광지구 재산권 문제와 관련한 협의를 하자"고 제의했었다.

북측은 8일 민관합동협의단의 협의제의에 대해 같은 날 밤 현대아산 현지사업소를 통해 "협의하려면 오라"는 반응을 보인 것으로 알려졌지만 정부는 이를 공식 입장으로 인정하지 않았었다.

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