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N. Korea unveils business plans for troubled mountain resort

All Headlines 11:35 August 28, 2011

BEIJING, Aug. 28 (Yonhap) -- North Korea unveiled Sunday its business plans to redevelop a troubled mountain resort in the isolated country, after seizing South Korean properties in the complex once considered a symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation.

The move is expected to further deepen the dispute over the resort at Mount Kumgang, with South Korea vowing to take all possible measures, including legal action with an international tribunal, against the North's decision to "legally dispose" of Seoul-owned assets there.

The business plans were presented to Yonhap News Agency by Park Chol-su, head of Daepung International Investment Group, which serves as a window to North Korea to attract foreign capital.

Daepung invited this week a group of foreign business executives and journalists to the resort to explain the business plans. During the four-day trip beginning Sunday, the group will visit Mount Kumgang via ship after departing from the northeastern port city of Rason.

The plans call for North Korea to redevelop the resort into an international tourist and business zone by building golf courses and hosting casinos from China and Western nations.

Using a railway linking Beijing to Pyongyang and the resort, North Korea plans to attract tourists from the United States, Japan, China and Hong Kong, Park said.

The North is also seeking to run tours linking Rason and Mount Kumgang by ferry, with an eye to woo Chinese tourists.

Under the first-stage plan, the North's state agency will build energy and electricity facilities at an area of 60 square meters in the resort and let foreign business partners develop part of the area with their own projects, Park said.

North Korea plans to collect taxes from foreign partners to operate their facilities, according to Park. The area will be open to foreigners, but remain off-limits to ordinary North Koreans.

Last week, South Korea withdrew all its nationals from the resort along the North's east coast after Pyongyang ordered them to leave.

South and North Korea launched the joint tour program in 1998 as a key symbol of fledging reconciliation on the divided Korean Peninsula.

The cross-border program had served as a cash cow for the North before Seoul halted it in 2008 following the shooting death of a South Korean tourist at the resort.
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