North Korea moves forward with its plan to demolish South Korea’s Mount Kumgang facility

The North Korean leader visited Mount Kumgang on October 23, 2019. (Rodong Sinmun)

North Korea may have started demolishing the Haegumgang Hotel and other South Korean facilities in the Mount Kumgang tourist area, but a Daily NK source says authorities are slowing down work.

The North Korea-based source said on Monday that there has been no change in North Korea’s position regarding the removal of all South Korean facilities from the Mount Kumgang tourist area. He said the demolition had been planned and approved, and while authorities may not have carried out the plan right away, they ordered the demolition to begin along with Pyongyang’s change in policy towards the South Korea.

Even in North Korea, people have several theories as to why the authorities waited to put the demolition plan into action, even after all the preparatory work had been completed.

The source said people had speculated that authorities had delayed the demolition to allow South Korean President Moon Jae-in – who had wanted to cooperate with the North – to save face.

He also said some North Koreans believed a new South Korean administration might want to restore peaceful and friendly relations with the North, but with that possibility receding, authorities began to seriously demolish South Korean facilities.

However, North Korea only mobilized about 30-40% of the personnel initially planned for the demolition. The more people you hire for the demolition, the faster you can get it done, suggesting that the authorities are intentionally slowing down the demolition by putting fewer bodies to work.

North Korea apparently aims to pressure South Korea’s new government, leaving the door open for negotiations while monitoring Seoul’s response to Pyongyang’s decision to demolish South Korea’s facilities.

The Seventh General Office of the North Korean army, which manages construction projects throughout the country, was tasked with the demolition. The bureau designated long ago which units and how many personnel to send, but the authorities didn’t give any orders, so they just waited.

Citing material from the Planet Labs satellite photo service, Voice of America has previously reported that North Korea had started demolishing the Haegumgang Hotel from March 6, with the interior of the hotel now visible through the roof and walls.

During a visit to the Mount Kumgang tourist area in October 2019, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the demolition of “shabby” South Korean facilities in cooperation with relevant South Korean bodies, calling them “unpleasant to look at”.

The two Koreas then exchanged several messages on the matter, but the discussion has been on hold since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Now North Korea has apparently started dismantling South Korean facilities in the area. Mount Kumgang tourist after hardly any discussion. with the South.

Meanwhile, North Korea reportedly told executives it planned to develop Mount Kumgang into a large-scale tourist resort by linking it to the Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist area.

However, the source said North Korea plans to remain in lockdown for another year or two, ostensibly to stop COVID-19, authorities plan to focus staff on renovating tourist areas until the border clears. is completely open.

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