North Korean leader orders South’s hotels at resort destroyed

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects the Mount Kumgang tourist resort, North Korea, in this undated picture released by North Korea's Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 23, 2019
Kim Jong-un ordered the removal of “all the unpleasant-looking facilities”

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered the demolition of all hotels and other buildings constructed by South Korea at a famous tourist site.

Mr Kim described the complex at Mount Kumgang in the North as being built “like makeshift tents in a disaster-stricken area”, state media report.

The resort was once hailed as a symbol of inter-Korean co-operation.

But after visiting the site, Mr Kim said it would be better off being managed without involvement from Seoul.

Correspondents say Mr Kim’s comments echo recent propaganda in the North that stresses the need to prioritise “self-reliance” in order to survive and succeed.

An undated combination photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows the Mount Kumgang tourist area
Image captionTours to the resort in North Korea started in 1998
Undated picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on 23 Oct 2019 shows leader Kim Jong-un inspecting the Mount Kumgang tourist area
Image captionThe KCNA news agency released a series of images of Kim Jong-un’s visit

The Mount Kumgang resort, in eastern North Korea, was built in the 1990s by South Korean companies on one of the peninsula’s most scenic mountains.

Hundreds of thousands of Southern tourists were allowed to visit the site under strict controls but tours were abruptly suspended in 2008 after a female tourist was shot dead by a North Korean guard.

In 2011 the North seized South Korean assets at the complex and expelled the remaining Southern officials.

On Wednesday, the North’s official KCNA news agency said Mr Kim had visited the resort and declared buildings “shabby” and “just a hotchpotch with no national character at all”.

“He instructed to remove all the unpleasant-looking facilities of the South side and to build new modern service facilities our own way,” KCNA said.

Undated picture from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on 23 Oct 2019 shows leader Kim Jong-un inspecting the Mount Kumgang tourist area
Image captionMr Kim, touring the site, said the North should be self-sufficient

Mr Kim said it would be misguided to view the resort as a symbol of North-South relations and instead it symbolised dependence.

“Mount 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.

State media regularly portray Kim Jong-un as a strong and inspirational leader. Earlier this month a series of photos released by KCNA showed him scaling the country’s highest mountain, Mount Paektu, astride a white horse.

This undated picture released by Korean Central News Agency on October 16, 2019 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un riding a white horse amongst the first snow at Mouth Paektu.
Image captionMount Paektu is one of North Korea’s most revered places
Media captionWhy do North Koreans revere a mountain?

Relations between North and South Korea are currently at a low point.

The North is angry that the South continues to carry out low-level military exercises with the US, and earlier this summer rejected all further talks with Seoul.

The two countries are technically still at war. Although the Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice, a peace treaty was never signed.

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