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(LEAD) Kim inspects Mount Kumgang, criticizes dependence on S. Korea

07:16 October 23, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS more info from para 5)
By Koh Byung-joon

SEOUL, Oct. 23 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited Mount Kumgang on the east coast and lambasted dependence on South Korea for the operation of the resort area once jointly run by the two Koreas, Pyongyang's state media reported Wednesday.

During the "field guidance," Kim also ordered the removal of "all the unpleasant-looking facilities" built by South Korea and construction of the country's own facilities, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"The mountain was left uncared for more than ten years to leave a flaw and the land is worthy of better cause. He made a sharp criticism of the very wrong, dependent policy of the predecessors who were going to rely on others when the country was not strong enough," the Korean Central News Agency said in English.

"He instructed to remove all the unpleasant-looking facilities of the south side with an agreement with the relevant unit of the south side and to build new modern service facilities our own way that go well with the natural scenery of Mt. Kumgang," it added.

Tours to Mount Kumgang were launched in 1998 amid thawing inter-Korean relations, but they were suspended in 2008 after a female tourist was shot to death by a North Korean guard.

The tour program was regarded as one of the major inter-Korean cooperative projects, along with the now-suspended industrial park in the North's border town of Kaesong.

North Korea has said it is ready to resume its operation as agreed by leader Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in last year in a summit. But little progress has been made in the face of global sanctions banning inter-Korean economic cooperation.

Kim's trip to Mount Kumgang and calls for the development of the area without South Korea appears aimed at expressing displeasure with little prospect for the resumption of the tour program anytime soon amid stalled denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

Kim said it is a "mistaken idea" and a "misguided understanding" to say that Mount Kumgang is a common property of the two Koreas and tours to the mountain will not be possible without the development of inter-Korean relations.

"Mt. Kumgang is our land won at the cost of blood and even a cliff and a tree on it are associated with our sovereignty and dignity," he was quoted as saying. "He set forth detailed tasks for wonderfully developing modern cultural tourist resort in Mt. Kumgang area so that the people can rest, fully enjoying the natural scenery of the country."

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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