South Korea to Hold Talks With North on Resort

Posted June 27th, 2011 at 4:50 pm (UTC-5)
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South Korea says it will send a group of government officials and private businessmen to Mount Kumgang in North Korea to discuss the North's unilateral seizure of South Korea's assets in the scenic mountain resort.

Officials in Seoul announced the decision Monday after Pyongyang threatened to dispose of South Korean-owned buildings at the joint project.

South Korea's Unification Ministry said a 12-member delegation will visit the complex Wednesday to ascertain the North's stance regarding the South Korean assets and to protect the owners' property rights.

North Korea said it would dispose of South Korean properties in the zone and asked the South on June 17 to visit the resort by the end of the month to discuss the process.

Mount Kumgang was developed more than a decade ago as a symbol of reconciliation between the two Koreas. The South suspended visits by its citizens in 2008, after a North Korean soldier killed a South Korean tourist who had strayed into a restricted military zone.

Seoul has resisted North Korea's pressure to resume the tours until Pyongyang offers a formal apology and firm safety guarantees.

In response, Pyongyang has terminated exclusive tourism rights to South Korean operator Hyundai Asan to run tours at Mount Kumgang and announced plans to develop international tourism there.

Relations between the two neighbors have deteriorated in recent years. North Korea carried out two military attacks on the South last year, which killed 50 South Koreans. Seoul is demanding that Pyongyang apologize for the provocations and show serious intent to dismantle its nuclear program.