Hyundai built the Mount Kumgang complex in North Korea on one of the peninsula’s most scenic mountains. It was to symbolize the inter-Korean economic co-operation. It turned out to be an attractive tourist spot for the South with luxury hotels, a golf course, and a spa. More than two million of them visited it up to 2008. However, it ceased to be a Travel destination after troops shot dead a tourist. The location of the resort is nearby of the heavily guarded border with South Korea. Last year, Kim Jong-un gave orders to demolish all hotels built by South Korea on the site.

In his words, they were an eyesore, and the facilities were not up to the mark. He described them as “makeshift tents” in a disaster zone. However, the demolition plans were put on the back burner after the coronavirus pandemic struck.

News AU says the regime of Kim Jong-un, leader of North Korea, wants to revive the Mount Kumgang complex. It used to be one of the two biggest inter-Korean projects, but the death of a female South Korean tourist led to Seoul's stoppage tours. It seems she strayed into a military zone, ignored warning shots from the guards, and paid the price. North Korea has earmarked funds of $1.77 billion to redevelop the resort. Pyongyang is keen to convert the setup into an excellent cultural resort that will cater to the whole world.

International sanctions pose problems for North Korea

North Korea is under international sanctions imposed on it because of its nuclear programs. Its leader Kim Jong-un has been testing a wide range of nuclear weapons despite objections from peace-loving nations. US President Donald Trump tried to resolve the issue through discussions with Kim Jong-un.

The two met in Singapore, Hanoi, and the DMZ but were unable to arrive at a solution. As a result, the sanctions remain, and that is hurting its economy. News AU adds that the reclusive North wants to resume the lucrative visits to the Mount Kumgang resort. At this moment, that would amount to a violation of the international sanctions.

A professor at Ewha University in Seoul sums up the situation saying - “The Kim regime will struggle to find the resources to redevelop Mount Kumgang and needs outside investment, but is signaling it will downgrade South Korean partners and stakeholders.” In short, Pyongyang wants Seoul to evolve a solution to ensure financial benefits accrue to the North. That could happen if the sanctions are eased, for which the hermit kingdom has to end its nuclear ambitions.

Mount Kumgang tourist complex in North Korea

According to Al Jazeera, Pyongyang has plans to redevelop its flagship Mount Kumgang tourist complex and give it an international look. This decision comes after Kim Jo-un gave orders to destroy the buildings erected by South Korea.

The resort used to be an attractive travel destination for South Koreans. Kim Tok Hun, the prime minister of North Korea, indicated a need to rebuild the tourist area and give it an international look. In 2018, Korean families separated for years met at the Mount Kumgang resort in North Korea. It was an effort to bring the two Koreas closer.

North Korea wants to exploit its tourism potential

There were two biggest inter-Korean projects in North Korea. One of these was the Mount Kumgang complex, and the other the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The former was a tourist draw, and the latter was a money earner. South Korea set up industries in Kaesong and employed North Koreans. However, both of these are no longer active.

In June, Al Jazeera adds that North Korea blew up the North-South liaison office located on its side of the border. Pyongyang now wants South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in to create a mechanism to improve the financial position of the North.