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Kim Jong-un orders demolition of South Korean-funded buildings at flagship tourist resort

Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, has ordered the destruction of all facilities built by South Korea at the Mount Kumgang tourist zone, apparently because of Seoul’s refusal to break ranks with the United States.

Mr Kim visited the resort, which was initially operated by the two nations and was seen as a way of improving cross-border ties, and declared that “all the unpleasant-looking facilities” designed by South Korea should be torn down, state-run media reported.

In their place, North Korean-style “modern service facilities” would be built, he said.

Opened in 1998 as part of efforts to build trust and promote exchanges, around one million South Koreans visited the 204 square-mile resort region, which was also an important source of hard currency for Pyongyang. 

Trips over the border came to a sudden end in July 2008, when a North Korean soldier shot dead a South Korean tourist who had strayed into a restricted zone.

With bilateral ties warming in the last two years, discussions had begun about South Korean tourists returning to Mount Kumgang as a relatively straightforward confidence-building measure.

In their meeting in September, Kim and Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, agreed that tours should resume as soon as conditions permit.

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