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N. Korea to Expel ‘Unnecessary’ S. Korean Staff from Resort

N. Korea to Expel ‘Unnecessary’ S. Korean Staff from Resort

Posted August. 04, 2008 03:09,   


North Korea yesterday said it will expel “unnecessary” South Korean staff at the Mount Geumgang resort and implement stronger military countermeasures in the area.

A Pyongyang military spokesman also condemned Seoul’s response to last month’s shooting death of a South Korean tourist at the resort as an “anti-North Korea” scheme.

South Korea immediately expressed regret over the decision, and also decided on additional measures. Seoul could suspend tours to the North Korean city of Gaesong should Pyongyang refuse to cooperate in investigating the shooting and guarantee the safety of South Korean tourists to the North.

In a statement released via the North`s official Korean Central News Agency, a spokesman for the North Korean military unit at the resort said, “All unnecessary South Korean personnel at the resort will be expelled.”

“We will strictly control the entry of South Koreans and their vehicles at the military demarcation line, and respond with strong military action against even the smallest provocation from the South at the resort and in restricted military zones.”

The spokesman blamed South Korean President Lee Myung-bak for the crackdown, saying, “His administration unilaterally suspended Mount Geumgang tours and continues to thoughtlessly antagonize the (North Korean) regime.”

North Korea also criticized the Lee administration for denying the declarations made in the 2000 and 2007 inter-Korean summits and destroying the chances of their implementation.

“Lee Myung-bak will be held accountable to both history and our people for a possible collapse in inter-Korean relations,” the spokesman said.

In Seoul, the government discussed countermeasures yesterday morning in a diplomatic and security ministers’ meeting chaired by the president.

Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyeon said in a statement, “It is regrettable that North Korea decided to take unacceptable measures instead of cooperating with us on the investigation, which is critical to resolving the case.”

Kim also said the Mount Geumgang tours cannot be resumed without the shooting’s resolution and North Korean protection for tourist safety.

He also hinted at suspending Gaesong tours, saying, “North Korean authorities must take necessary measures to ensure the safety of our tourists in Gaesong.”

Expulsion of law-abiding South Korean staff violates the 2004 inter-Korean agreement on entry and stay of visitors to the Gaesong Industrial Complex and the Mount Geumgang resort.

Hyundai Asan, the South Korean operator of the Mount Geumgang tour, has also gradually withdrawn staff from the resort since last month’s shooting. More employees could be sent back home if prospects of a protracted suspension rise.

A total of 835 South Korean staff were at the resort as of yesterday, 38.1 percent fewer than when the killing occurred July 11.

kyle@donga.com abc@donga.com