South staff told to quit Kumgang

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South staff told to quit Kumgang

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A worker at Hyundai Asan passes by a photo of the Mount Kumgang resort, which the company used to run, yesterday after North Korea notified Seoul it would unilaterally dispose of South Korean assets at the scenic resort. [YONHAP]


Following up on its ultimatum of three weeks ago, North Korea told Seoul yesterday it would unilaterally “deal with” South Korean assets at the Mount Kumgang resort and all South Korean personnel would have to leave the area within 72 hours.

Tampering with any of the remaining assets, it said, would result in “legal action.”

In a report from the Korean Central News Agency early yesterday morning, a spokesperson was cited as saying South Korean real estate assets at the mountain resort would be “legally dealt with, deeming that all South Korean contractors have given up their rights and their assets.”

The report stated nothing could be moved in or out of the resort from midnight Aug. 21 and all South Korean workers at the resort should leave within 72 hours.

“To aid the South Korean contractors who have been hurt by the South Korean government’s decision to stop cross-border tourism, we have given numerous opportunities to negotiate,” said the report. “And we have given our best efforts in offering a variety of choices for the South’s contractors so they may do as they please with their real estate assets.”

Similar statements were also sent to the South Korean Ministry of Unification and Hyundai Asan yesterday morning.

Hyundai Asan has monopoly rights to the Mount Kumgang tourism business since it began in November 1998.

North Korea seized South Korean assets at the mountain resort in April 2010 after the South suspended Mount Kumgang tours in July 2008 when a South Korean tourist was shot and killed by a North Korean soldier. South Korean assets at the resort are estimated to be worth around 300 billion won ($283 million).

The Unification Ministry immediately expressed regret over North Korea’s decision.

“The government cannot acknowledge North Korea’s one-sided decision,” said ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung to reporters yesterday. “And concerning this, I would like to clarify that North Korea is responsible for whatever happens from now on.”

Chun said the safety of the South Korean citizens at the resort is of top priority and “legal, diplomatic measures” would be taken along with close communication with South Korean contractors that have assets in the North.

The ministry issued a statement to Pyongyang later in the afternoon, demanding that all the assets and personnel at the resort be restored to their original status.

Hyundai Asan did not offer an official stance on the matter yesterday, but an official at the company said they were “perplexed” by the North’s decision. The official said the company does not yet have detailed plans to visit the resort and stated it would keep negotiating with the South Korean government.

There were 14 South Koreans at the resort as of yesterday, seven from Hyundai Asan and the rest related to South Korean businesses with assets at the resort, according to the Unification Ministry.

“They will probably have to leave at an appropriate time,” said a ministry official yesterday. “There’s no need for them to go through any danger.” Although the statements from North Korea did not specify when the 72-hour period started, Chun said the government believes the 72 hours started from yesterday.

If all the South Koreans leave, it will be the first time since the start of cross-border tourism in 1998 that there will be no South Korean workers at the resort.

As for removing assets from Mount Kumgang, the ministry official said there is “practically nothing” to take away.


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

북한 “금강산 남측 재산 4841억원 처분하겠다”

대북 수해지원 50억 의결한 날…현지인력 14명 오늘 철수


북한이 22일 금강산 지역 내 남측 시설의 관리·유지를 위해 머물러온 현대아산 관계자 등 14명에게 72시간(3일) 안에 떠날 것을 요구했다. 북한은 또 남측 부동산과 설비를 일방적으로 처분하겠다고 밝혔다. 이로써 2008년 7월 북한 경비병에 의한 남한 관광객 박왕자씨 피격·사망 사건으로 중단된 금강산 관광은 파국으로 치닫게 됐다.

 북한의 금강산국제관광특구지도국은 이날 대변인 담화를 통해 “최근 북남 사이에 금강산 남측 재산정리를 위한 접촉이 여러 차례 진행됐다”며 “그러나 남조선 당국은 재산 정리 사업을 그 무슨 합의 위반으로 걸고 들며 악랄하게 방해했고 노골적 지연 전술에 매달렸다”고 비난했다. 대변인은 “이제부터 관광 특구에 있는 남측 부동산과 설비 및 윤전기재(바퀴가 달린 차량을 의미)를 비롯한 모든 재산들에 대한 실제적 법적 처분을 단행한다”고 말했다. 또 “남측 기업들의 물자와 재산 반출을 21일 0시부터 중지한다”고 덧붙였다. 북측은 관영 조선중앙통신으로 오전 8시53분 담화를 발표한 뒤 같은 내용의 통지문을 통일부에 보냈다. 정부 당국자는 “북한이 장비·물자 반출 금지 시한을 발표 시점보다 소급해 잡음으로써 반출 가능한 남측 재산도 차지하겠다는 속셈을 드러냈다”고 비판했다.

 북한의 조치는 통일부가 대북 수해지원을 위해 국민세금 50억5000만원을 지출하겠다고 발표한 시점에 나왔다. 천해성 통일부 대변인은 브리핑에서 “북한의 일방적 조치를 인정할 수 없으며, 앞으로 발생하는 모든 책임은 북한에 있다”고 강조했다.

 현대아산 관계자도 “북의 이번 조치는 받아들일 수 없고 철회돼야 한다”고 밝혔다. 또 “지금이라도 남북 당국이 조속한 관광 재개를 위한 협의를 마무리한다면 곧 해결될 것으로 믿는다”고 덧붙였다.

정부는 국민 신변안전을 최우선한다는 차원에서 현지 관리인원 14명 전원을 23일쯤 철수시킬 방침이다. 금강산 지역 남측 자산은 투자액 기준으로 4841억원이다. 정부가 550억원을 들여 지은 12층 규모의 이산가족면회소 등 당국·한국관광공사 소유가 1242억원, 에머슨퍼시픽의 골프장(18홀 규모)과 현대아산의 금강산호텔 등 민간 측이 3599억원이다.

 한편 북한은 미국·영국·일본·중국·홍콩 등지의 해외 기업과 미국 AP, 영국 로이터, 일본 아사히신문 등 주요 언론매체 관계자를 초청해 금강산 특구 시범여행을 준비 중인 것으로 확인됐다. 시범 여행은 북한 금강산국제관광특구위원회, 나선특별시인민위원회, 조선대풍국제투자집단 주관으로 오는 28일부터 5박 6일 일정이다. 중국 옌지(延吉)를 출발해 북한 나선시에서 배편으로 금강산으로 향한다.

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