S Korea proposes face-to-face meeting on dormant tour project with North

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea yesterday proposed a face-to-face meeting with North Korea on the fate of a long-shuttered

joint tourist project at a scenic North Korean mountain, as their relations remain cool over stalemated nuclear diplomacy.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last week ordered the destruction of South Korean-built facilities at the North’s Diamond Mountain resort, saying they look “shabby” and “unpleasant-looking”.

North Korea later proposed an exchange of documents to work out details.

Yesterday, South Korea sent a message proposing officials from the two Koreas meet to discuss issues on the tourist project including the North’s push to tear down South Korean-constructed facilities there, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry. Spokesman Lee Sang-min said South Korea hasn’t yet proposed a specific date and location for that meeting.

Protesters stand in front of an image of North Korea’s Diamond Mountain as they stage a rally calling for the resumption of Diamond Mountain tourism in Seoul, South Korea, yesterday. PHOTO: AP

Lee said South Korea has determined there should be “some sort of meeting” between the two Koreas to discuss the issue. He said “a unilateral action” by North Korea could damage inter-Korean relations and runs counter to public sentiments in South Korea.

North Korea didn’t immediately respond to South Korea’s proposal.

South Korean tours to the mountain began in 1998, providing a rare source of foreign currency for the impoverished North.

The mountain was also one of the few places in North Korea that South Koreans could visit.

But the project was halted in 2008 when a North Korean soldier fatally shot a South Korean tourist who the North said entered a restricted area.

Pyongyang has called for the project’s restart since it entered nuclear diplomacy with Washington and Seoul last year.

But Seoul cannot revive tours to the mountain and other massive stalled inter-Korean economic projects while international sanctions remain in place over the North’s nuclear programme.