N.Korea moves to close Mt. Kumgang tourism project > korea

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N.Korea moves to close Mt. Kumgang tourism project

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작성자 The Hankyorae 작성일10-04-25 22:55 조회896회 댓글0건


Experts say the move will restrict S.Koreas role in the six-party talks

North Korea laid an effective death sentence Friday on the Mt. Kumgang tourism project with South Korea. Its decision to seize five pieces of real estate belonging to the South Korean government and Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) and to freeze real estate and expel administrative personnel from private companies such as Hyundai Asan, is nothing short of an announcement that the country will no longer engage in the Mt. Kumgang project with South Korea. Now all that remains is for North Korea to take measures to confiscate the real estate of Hyundai Asan and other South Korean private companies. The project, a leading symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation since the first tourist boat was launched on Nov. 18, 1998, now finds itself at the edge of a precipice.

Why did North Korea opt for this hardline move at this point in time? In a statement Friday, a spokesman for the Guidance Bureau for the Development of Scenic Spots said, The traitor Lee Myung-bak has not shied away from imprudent provocations that find fault with even the Day of the Sun memorial. The spokesman also said, President Lee is straining to make a link between the sinking of their warship the Cheonan and us. In other words, North Korea is taking issue with South Korean public opinion, where some have reached the point of calling for a military attack on North Korea following the sinking of the Cheonan. Observers say that North Korea could also have taken as a provocation the critical remarks made by President Lee on April 20, when he criticized North Koreas gun salute dinner to commemorate the 98th anniversary of Kim Il-sungs birth by saying, North Korea also needs to come to its senses. A former Unification Minister who asked to remain anonymous said, North Koreas actions have taken place more quickly than expected. The former minister added, It seems as if we must now view North Korea as having finally established its position on inter-Korean relations.

Some analysts are also saying that North Korea is attempting to shift the agenda. A former senior official in the area of foreign affairs and national security who wished to remain nameless said, There are a number of previous instances of North Korea shifting the agenda by ratcheting up a sense of crisis. The former official said, This measure in relation to Mt. Kumgang tourism could be an attempt to change the direction of public opinion in South Korea, which is focused on the Cheonan, and increase its focus on inter-Korean relations.

Most experts were unable to hide their concern about the effect North Koreas measures will have on inter-Korean relations and the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Institute for Peace Affairs (IPA) Research Director Jang Yong-seok said, Mt. Kumgang is only the beginning. North Korean pressure against South Korea will increase in all areas of inter-Korean relations, including the Kaesong Industrial Complex. Jang added, It seems that we are now departing from the place from which problems could be resolved through dialogue, as the relationship of trust between North Korean and South Korean authorities has fundamentally collapsed. It also appears that this will have a negative effect on the six-party talks, which have faced a long-term impasse since their last meeting in November 2008. Inje University Professor Kim Yeon-chul said, Resuming the six-party talks has become a more difficult task, and in the event that they are resumed, South Koreas role will disappear due to the effective rupture in inter-Korean relations.

This is the more serious issue, Kim added.

However, since North Korea is also facing inevitable negative effects as a result of this measure on its national tasks of attracting foreign capital and improving relations with the U.S., the fact that North Korea has nothing to gain either symbolically or practically from this move is also worthy of attention. For this reason, observers are calling for a more active approach from the South Korean government as the situation becomes more serious. A former senior official with the Unification Ministry who asked to remain anonymous said, The land and facilities at Mt. Kumgang arent going anywhere, so if the South Korean government and public opinion establish a sense of urgency about resuming Mt. Kumgang tourism, an improvement in the situation is not out of the question.

Professor Kim Yeon-chul said, The long-term cooling of inter-Korean relations will inevitably be a great burden on the government, which has to host the G20 summit in Seoul this November. He added, The government needs to adjust its attitude and become a bit more flexible and problem-solving in its approach.

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