North Korea’s rubber-stamp legislature has voted to abolish laws on economic cooperation with the South, state media said yesterday, as relations between the two neighbors hit new lows.
Ties between the two Koreas have been in a deep freeze as Pyongyang accelerates its weapons development programs and Seoul ramps up military cooperation with Washington and Tokyo, with key inter-Korean economic cooperation projects suspended for years.
At a plenary meeting of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly on Wednesday, officials voted to scrap the law on inter-Korean economic cooperation “with unanimous approbation,” North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.
Photo: KCNA via Reuters
The latest decision comes after Pyongyang last month declared Seoul its main enemy, jettisoned agencies dedicated to reunification, and threatened to occupy the South during war.
The legislature also unanimously approved a plan to abolish a special law on the operation of the Mount Kumgang tourism project, once a prominent symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.
The resort was built by South Korea’s Hyundai Asan on one of the North’s most scenic mountains, and once drew hundreds of thousands of visitors from South Korea.
However, its tours ended abruptly in 2008 after a North Korean soldier shot and killed a South Korean tourist who strayed off an approved path, resulting in Seoul suspend travel.
The Mount Kumgang resort was once one of the two biggest inter-Korean projects, along with the now-shuttered Kaesong Industrial Complex, where South Korean companies employed North Korean workers while paying Pyongyang for their services.
Seoul pulled out of the venture — launched in the wake of a 2000 inter-Korean summit — in 2016 in response to a nuclear test and missile launches by North Korea, saying Kaesong profits were helping to fund the provocations.
In 2020, North Korea blew up a liaison office on its side of the border — paid for by Seoul — saying it had no interest in talks.
After years of COVID-19-linked border closures, restarting its lucrative tourism business would offer North Korea a means of generating hard cash, but could now violate international sanctions imposed on Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic weapons programs.
As Pyongyang draws closer to Moscow — also under a raft of global sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine — Seoul-based Web site NK News has reported that Russian tourists are set to visit North Korea this month.
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