DPRK leader Kim Jong Un inspects the Mount Kumgang tourist resort in this picture released on October 23, 2019. (Photo: AP)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said on Friday it had sent Republic of Korea (ROK) an "ultimatum" about its Mt Kumgang tourist resort, saying it will unilaterally remove the ROK facilities there if Seoul insists on talks about the issue.
ROK had proposed talks with DPRK on how to handle its facilities in the resort, once a rare example of cooperation between the two countries, after DPRK leader Kim Jong Un said last month he wanted them removed amid cooled inter-Korean relations.
Pyongyang had said they wanted to discuss the removal "by writing", not by talks, but ROK said they would seek a "creative solution" and make the protection of ROK assets a priority.
"On November 11 we sent an ultimatum, warning that if the South Korean (ROK) authorities persist in their useless assertion, we will take it as an abandonment of the withdrawal, and take resolute measure for unilaterally pulling down the facilities," the DPRK's official KCNA news agency said.
ROK's Unification Ministry deputy spokesman Kim Eun-han said Seoul would respond calmly to the issue "in line with its consistent position that the two Koreas should deal with it through mutual agreement".
He did not elaborate on what ROK might do if DPRK removes the facilities.
Mt Kumgang is on DPRK's east coast, just beyond the demilitarized zone separating the two countries. It was one of two major inter-Korean economic projects, along with the Kaesong industrial zone, and an important token of rapprochement during decades of hostilities following the 1950-53 Korean War.
Kim Jong Un called the ROK-built facilities, now more than a decade old, "shabby" and "capitalist" and ordered a modern redevelopment of the tourist spot, KCNA reported in October.
There have been no ROK tours to Mt Kumgang since 2008, when a ROK tourist was shot by a DPRK soldier, although there have been infrequent events such as the reunions of families from both sides separated by the war.
KCNA said on Friday Kim Jong Un inspected the construction site of Yangdok Hot Springs tourist resort again.