N.Korea Starts Demolishing S.Korean Hotel in Mt. Kumgang

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North Korea is demolishing a floating hotel at the scenic Mt. Kumgang resort that used to be owned by Hyundai Asan, Voice of America reported on Saturday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered the Hotel Haegumgang to be demolished after touring the resort in 2019, but the demolition was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest development coincides with signs that the North is preparing to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile and rebuilding a nuclear test site in Punggye-ri.

VOA said satellite photos from Planet Labs from March 5 to 9 show a dark hole in the top of the hotel which is growing, suggesting that the roof is being taken off.

Large objects that appear to be heavy machinery can also spotted in front of the hotel.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (center) gives instructions to officials near the Hotel Haegumgang during an inspection trip to the Mt. Kumgang resort, in this photo from the [North] Korean Central News Agency on Oct. 23, 2019.

During a visit to the resort in October 2019, Kim said that the dreary postmodern hotel as well as a nondescript chalet complex nearby looked “shabby” and “unpleasant” and ordered officials to remove them. The order was aimed at starting the Mt. Kumgang tourism project from scratch, “with new modern service facilities our own way.”

The demolition comes amid the regime’s increasingly bellicose behavior, and may be intended to send a warning now South Korea has elected a new conservative president.

A former Unification Ministry official said Sunday, “Judging by how North Korea attempted to start dismantling it around [South Korea’s] presidential election, it appears to be aimed at gauging the response of president-elect Yoon Seok-youl.”

A People Power Party official said Yoon “will certainly protest North Korea’s unilateral attempt to seize and dismantle the South Korean asset.” 

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