By Choi Soo-hyang
SEOUL, Nov. 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's recent order to remove South Korean-built facilities at Mount Kumgang and build its own tour zone demonstrates his determination to break through international sanctions, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper said Friday.
Last month, Kim ordered the removal of all "unpleasant-looking" facilities built by the South at the mountain resort on the North's east coast and construction of its own international tourist zone in an apparent threat to end their joint tour project.
The Japan-based Choson Sinbo said the order was possible because the leader had faith and determination to fight hostile forces' sanctions with self-reliance.
"The leader has emphasized that building a tourist zone is ... an acute battle against the hostile forces who try to suffocate (North) Korea with gangster-like sanctions," the newspaper said.
The Choson Sinbo also stressed the legitimacy of the North's decision to demolish the buildings at the mountain resort, claiming that South Korean business operators have given up their right to property by long abandoning the facilities.
Launched in 1998, the tour program to Mount Kumgang was regarded as a symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation and economic cooperation until it was halted in 2008, after a South Korean traveler was shot to death by a North Korean soldier.
Seoul has sought its resumption in the hope that the cross-border project could reduce tensions and contribute to the denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington. But little progress has been made in the face of sanctions banning economic projects involving North Korea.
The North has asked South Korea to come and remove the facilities at an "agreed-upon date," but Seoul proposed to send an inspection team first, insisting that all pending-issues in inter-Korean relations should be resolved through dialogue and consultations.
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