North Korea is forging ahead with plans to redevelop its Mount Kumgang tourist site, despite the COVID-19 crisis

North Korea Mountain Resort.JPG
North Korean officials visiting the Mount Kumgang tourist area.

  • Officials in North Korea are planning a reopening of Mount Kumgang tourist area, state media said on Sunday, despite the ongoing pandemic.
  • The site was previously run in cooperation with South Korea, but will be rebuilt with North Korea’s “national character” in mind, according to KCNA, a state-run media outlet. 
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Officials in North Korea are planning a reopening of Mount Kumgang tourist area, state media said on Sunday, despite the ongoing pandemic.

State media on Sunday published photos of high-ranking officials wearing masks and touring the site, which was previously run as a joint venture with South Korea.

Premier Kim Tok Hun reportedly said plans for redevelopment need to be made and carried out, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a state-run media outlet, as reported by The Associated Press

A post on KCNA’s English-language website read: “He called for pushing ahead with the development project of turning Mt Kumgang area into modern and all-inclusive international tourist and cultural area under yearly and phased plans.”

It added that the project would be maintaining the principle of conveniences and architectural beauty in the construction, so that people can fully enjoy natural beauty. 

Kim Jong un at Mount Kumgang North Korea 2019.JPG
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at Mount Kumgang in 2019.

While coronavirus data has flowed freely from most countries, notoriously shut-off North Korea has mostly remained silent. In late November, the country executed at least one person who had apparently broken coronavirus rules, as lawmakers in South Korea were told in intelligence briefings, according to NPR. The country has locked down Pyongyang, its capital, and banned activities including deep-sea fishing, according to The Associated Press.

Coronavirus levels in the country are listed as “very high” on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. 

Mount Kumgang, which is just north of the DMZ, had been run as a joint venture with South Korea, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, according to Al Jazeera. Tourists visiting the site would stay in colorful huts lined up under the backdrop of Mount Kumgang.

About 2 million South Koreans visited before the resort was closed in 2008, per the AP. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had reportedly ordered some of the property destroyed, but never followed through. 

On Sunday, officials said the area needed to be rebuilt in its own “national character and modernity,” seemingly stepping away from the past partnership with South Korea.

As they toured the area, officials said they wanted to build a “world-level” hotel, golf course, and skiing area. 

 

 

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