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North Korea seizes South’s Mount Kumgang resort assets

August 22, 2011

North Korea says it is seizing assets at a tourist site jointly operated with South Korea.

It has given South Koreans 72 hours to quit the resort at Mount Kumgang, which lies just inside North Korea.

Officials said they were legally disposing of South Korean assets such as real estate, equipment and vehicles, considering them abandoned.

Joint operations were suspended in 2008 after a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier.

The announcement came via the North’s state news agency that as of Monday morning no materials or property could be taken from the South side of the resort, and all personnel should leave within 72 hours.

“We consider that the South has completely given up all rights on properties owned by South Korean companies and now start legal disposal of them,” KCNA said in a statement.

North Korea has been threatening to seize South Korean assets at Mount Kumgang for months.

It recently invited South Korean representatives for talks on reopening the site, but both sides remain divided over how to deal with the fatal shooting of a South Korean tourist who had strayed into a military area, which led to the South suspending its activities there.

North Korea is keen to boost its economy, in the face of dwindling aid and reportedly severe food shortages inside the country.

Tens of thousands of tourists used to visit the Mount Kumgang site every year, paying in dollars, providing a significant source of hard currency for North Korea.

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