North Korea is destroying sites in the Mount Kumgong resort area

(CNN) — A floating hotel in the resort area, once hailed as a symbol of peace between the Koreas, is being destroyed by the North Korean government.

Mount Kumgang, Korean for “diamond,” has been a site for rare moments of reconciliation between the citizens of the two countries, which are still technically at war.

An official at South Korea’s Unification Ministry told CNN that they had identified “degrading activity” at multiple sites on Mount Kumgong.

The news comes months after unconfirmed reports suggested buildings in the complex had been demolished.

Onjonggak Rest House, at the foot of Mount Kumgang, has previously hosted highly publicized reunions of separated families from the South and the North.

Hyundai Asan’s office in Kumgang was recently mentioned as being vandalized this week. A South Korean-owned company was responsible for managing the tourist area.

“Mount Kumgang tours improved inter-Korean coordination and served as an important point for inter-Korean exchange,” Hyundai Asan spokesman Park Sung-yuk told CNN earlier.

The world’s first floating hotel was built in Australia and eventually ended up in Kumgong.

Hyundai Asan Corporation

In addition, North Korea began dismantling the famous Haegamgang Hotel in April. Once a luxury resort floating on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the hotel was relocated to Kumgong and opened to tourists in 2000.

The official said they were closely monitoring whether North Korea would demolish the family reunification center and the Kumgong Community Center, adding that this information could not yet be confirmed.

Kumgong Resort, about 30 minutes north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), is co-managed by the two Koreas.

In 2008, after a North Korean soldier shot and killed a South Korean woman, Mount Kumgong stopped welcoming tourists after crossing the border into a military zone.

However, separated families continued to reunite there until 2018.
Since then the area has been lying in ruins. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who visited Kumgong in 2019, called it “bad” and “backward”.

North Korea is reportedly planning to replace all structures on Mount Kumgong with new ones, potentially signaling that its government plans to manage and control the resort area without any help from its southern neighbour.

Report contribution by Jacopo Prisco.

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