Difficult for N. Korea to earn currency through Mt. Geumgang tours without S. Korean tourists: Expert

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Video Discription: Once the crown jewel in terms of inter-Korean projects South Korean tours to North Korea's famous Mount Geumgang hang in the balance as Pyeongyang is demanding Seoul come and tear down its facilities at the resort that's barely been used since 2008.
Analysts say... Pyeongyang is aiming to develop its own tourism sector and earn foreign currency... but faces a dilemma on whether to involve South Korea in that regard.
Oh Jung-hee has more.
Pyeongyang first notified Seoul late last month that it should come and demolish its facilities... and that the details could be decided through written exchanges.
In turn, South Korea suggested holding working-level talks... and sending a team north to inspect the facilities both of which were rejected.
Seoul has been looking to create an opportunity for the two sides to meet and talk face-to-face... inasmuch as the tours began as a "joint project" and in view of their historical significance.
But the regime has completely rejected that possibility.
A North Korea expert says... Pyeongyang never intended to "discuss and mutually agree" to the tearing down of South Korean facilities.
It had already made up its mind.
"Next year is the final year for the North's five-year economic development plan and the most effective way to make any achievements is to boost tourism. Pyeongyang has been expecting Seoul to resume Mount Geumgang tours, but that didn't happen until now, and therefore the regime is very pessimistic about cooperating with Seoul."

The North aims to finish building the Wonsan-Kalma tourist area on its eastern coast by next April... and Mount Geumgang is included in this zone.
It's believed North Korea would want to work on Mount Geumgang as well... and put an end to 10 years of neglect.
The North wants to develop and run the tours independently... and would let South Koreans come later.
But this doesn't mean that the North is completely confident in its plans.
"Even though Mount Geumgang is very beautiful, unless there are tourists from South Korea, it'll be difficult for the North to get back its investment. In the long-term, it will be a loss that could even dry up the regime's finances. It's a dilemma for the North. Even though it wants to lead the tour business, without South Korea, it won't be able to see profits."
The door for dialogue with the North seems closed at the moment... and regarding what Seoul should do, experts have divided opinions.
Some say, South Korea should keep knocking the door and suggest a new creative way to resume the tours.
Others say, now is not the right time... and Seoul should rather focus on securing its properties at the resort.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.


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