Seoul: North Korea destroys a golf course owned by South Korea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea is destroying a South Korean-owned golf course in a scenic hill station in the second confirmed case of the elimination of South Korean assets in an area where rivals have already organized a joint tour program, officials said. Tuesday in Seoul.

North Korea’s demolition of South Korean-built facilities at its Diamond Mountain resort comes as ties between the countries remain strained over the North’s recent series of high-profile missile tests.

Responding to questions from The Associated Press, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said it confirmed North Korea was demolishing the golf resort in addition to a South Korean-owned hotel. Last Friday, the ministry said North Korea was in the process of dismantling the Haegumgang Hotel, a floating hotel moored in a coastal area of ​​the resort town.

The ministry said it strongly urged North Korea to stop destroying South Korean facilities. He asked North Korea to resume talks to resolve the issue.

The two Koreas jointly conducted a touring project at the station for about 10 years in an earlier era of inter-Korean detente. The tours drew around 2 million South Korean visitors and provided a scarce source of foreign currency for the impoverished North. But South Korea suspended the project in 2008 after one of its tourists was shot dead there by a North Korean soldier.

After relations improved in 2018, the two Koreas pushed to resume stalled cooperation projects, including mountain tours. But Seoul ultimately failed to do so without defying US-imposed sanctions that prevented tours from restarting. In 2019, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered authorities to demolish South Korean-owned assets at the station, but the demolition was delayed due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

North Korea has asked for sanctions relief and other concessions from the United States and South Korea to revive its moribund economy. Some experts say its recent weapons testing activity was aimed at perfecting its missile technology and boosting its influence in future negotiations with rivals.

Besides the golf resort and the floating hotel, South Korea has other accommodation facilities in the resort, such as spas, a cultural center, karaoke rooms, and a building used for Korean family reunions separated by war. The fate of these facilities was unclear.

Northern state media reported Tuesday that a fire in the Diamond Mountain area over the weekend destroyed unspecified facilities and hundreds of acres of forest. He said the fire was put out on Sunday.

It was not immediately clear if the fire was related to the demolition of South Korean facilities at the resort. South Korea’s Unification Ministry said it was trying to find out if the fire had caused damage to its facilities at the resort town.

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