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Minister: N. Korea frustrated with standstill on inter-Korean project

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Thursday that North Korea seemed disappointed that the inter-Korean tourism project had not resumed, commenting on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s orders to tear down the South’s facilities at the Kumgangsan tourist resort.

In response to the report on Wednesday saying Kim had ordered the removal of “all the unpleasant-looking facilities of the south side” and wanted to “build new modern service facilities our own way,” the minister evaluated Kim’s remarks as an “expression of frustration and disappointment over not resuming tourism at Kumgangsan.”


Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha speaks during a press conference at the ministry in Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap)
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha speaks during a press conference at the ministry in Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap)

Speaking at a press conference in Seoul, Kang reiterated the South’s basic stance of pursuing inter-Korean relations and dialogue while complying with the framework of sanctions on the North, saying North Korea needs to take forward-looking actions toward denuclearization.

Stating that Seoul’s hands are tied on the matter of the sanctions framework, Kang said trust and the consensus of the international community are needed.

The South Korean government and companies invested in the Kumgangsan resort, building hotels and a golf course there. Tours to the resort operated for 10 years but were suspended in 2008 after a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier, purportedly for entering a military zone.

Relations between the two Koreas have cooled down this year, with Pyongyang choosing to discuss denuclearization directly with Washington. Pyongyang and Washington held a working-level meeting Oct. 5, but it ended without progress.

On Thursday, the North’s Foreign Ministry adviser Kim Kyu-gwan urged Washington to act “wisely” through the end of the year, the deadline it had set for the US to change its approach to nuclear negotiations.

“Contrary to the political judgment and intention of President Trump, Washington political circles and DPRK policy makers of the US administrations are hostile to the DPRK for no reason, preoccupied with the Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice,” Kim said in a statement, referring to North Korea by its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Regarding the statement, Kang said she views the North’s comment on “trust between the leaders” as a positive sign.

“I expect this dialogue momentum will be sustained, leading to substantial progress,” she said.

The minister also touched upon the South Korea-US talks to decide how much Seoul should contribute to the cost of maintaining the US military presence here.

The allies began two-day talks in Honolulu on Wednesday to negotiate a new cost-sharing plan for next year and beyond. The US has been pressuring its allies, including South Korea, to shoulder a greater share of the cost burden associated with maintaining US troops.

“It is true that the US has been making a much higher level of demand than in the past. … I think it is necessary to establish a pangovernmental strategy to reduce this difficult gap,” she said.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)
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