N. Korea issues commemorative coin highlighting Mt. Kumgang
SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea released a commemorative coin featuring a folktale associated with Mount Kumgang around the time leader Kim Jong-un ordered the removal of all South Korean-built facilities at the mountain resort in October, a member of a pro-unification civic coalition said Thursday.
The coin, which depicts a well-known Korean folktale of a woodcutter and eight fairies, was issued around Oct. 23 when Kim visited the mountain and issued the removal order, said Lee Sang-hyun, a member of the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation.
The North's leader said the country should build an international tourist zone on its own after removing all South-built facilities. The order was seen as an expression of frustration amid few signs the inter-Korean project could resume anytime soon.
The coin's issuance was seen as reflecting Pyongyang's will to develop the mountain resort.
The coin, 10 centimeters in diameter, is worth 650 North Korean won, higher than a regular commemorative coin worth 20 won.
The inter-Korean mountain tourism project has been suspended since a South Korean tourist was shot and killed during a trip there in 2008. In an effort to save the project from closing permanently, the South proposed face-to-face talks, but the North has turned them down.
Pyongyang has also recently issued a coin commemorating the first summit between leader Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump held in Singapore last year with the words "the first DPRK-US summit in history" engraved on it, which is seen as a way of displaying a diplomatic feat and a sign that they are open to dialogue with the United States.
Commemorative coins have reflected North Korea's political stances. After minting coins criticizing the U.S. in the past, the North issued the latest coin with a conciliatory tone to mark the summit with Trump.
"I hope the government and related institutes utilize the commemorative coins as useful tools to analyze North Korea's policies and strategic position as we lack data on North Korea," Lee said.
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