North Korea demolished a hotel that was the symbol of Korean engagement
In order to prevent members of the public from having access to the inter-Korean hotel, the North demolished it and confiscated all funding for its upkeep.
South Korea built several facilities on North Korea’s Diamond Mountain resort during the 1990s. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was frustrated with U.S.-led sanctions when he called South Korean facilities shabby and ordered them destroyed after months without tours.
The North decided to postpone demolition work scheduled in 2020 as part of the stringent measures they took to avert COVID-19.
On Friday, South Korea’s Unification Ministry announced that North Korea would be demolishing the Haegumgang Hotel. The location has a history of housing defectors and refugees fleeing North Korean conflict zones. The floating hotel in the coastal area was a major attraction among dozens of Diamond Mountain facilities. In 1998, these tours began.
Unification Ministry spokesperson Cha Deok-Cheol didn’t know whether North Korea was also destroying other facilities at the site. Seoul strongly regrets North Korea’s unilateral hosting of the property and hopes for talks to resolve this issue diplomatically.
Multiple satellites have captured work being done on a building in Seoul and it’s been ongoing for weeks. South Korea has contacted North Korea through Inter-Korean communication channels, but the north hasn’t responded to Seoul.
The illegal demolition of the building in Pyongyang comes amid heightened tensions over recent missile launches. North Korea conducted its first intercontinental ballistic missile test since 2017 on March 24; this is a concerning development and North Korea may be attempting to force the United States to take more drastic measures against the country with this act of brinkmanship.
Korean border tours to Diamond Mountain that were suspended after a North Korean guard killed a South Korean tourist became an important symbol of cooperation and financial support for the North.
As a result of the sanctions imposed on North Korea, tours to Diamond Mountain have been suspended. In order to restart them, South Korea would first need to defy these sanctions which would incur penalties. While there are international sanctions meant to prevent tourism, they do not directly ban it. Rather, they prohibit cash that can result from such business activities.
President Moon Jae-in met with DPRK for a brief period of time in 2018 and expressed optimism on how the country could end sanctions. However, this is unlikely to happen because North Korea demands nothing but the destruction of its rivals before accepting any potential benefits. North Korea suspended cooperation with China after diplomacy failed. This led to South Korea providing concessions to the U.S.