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North demolishing hotel that was symbol of Korean engagement

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) – North Korea is demolishing a South Korean-owned hotel at a North Korean resort that was one of the last symbols of inter-Korean engagement, according to Seoul officials who called for the North to stop the “unilateral” destruction.

South Korea built dozens of facilities at North Korea’s Diamond Mountain resort to accommodate tourism by its citizens during a high period of engagement between the rivals in the 1990s. But North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2019 called the South Korean facilities there “shabby” and ordered them destroyed after months of frustration over Seoul’s unwillingness to defy United States (US)-led sanctions that kept the tours from resuming.

The North postponed the demolition work in 2020 as part of stringent measures to prevent COVID-19.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said yesterday that North Korea was proceeding with the demolition of the Haegumgang Hotel. The floating hotel, docked at a coastal area of the resort, was a major property among dozens of facilities South Korea established to accommodate Diamond Mountain tours, which began in 1998.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits the Diamond Mountain resort in Kumgang. PHOTO: AP
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