North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Ku’mgang Inter-Korea Meeting Ends

A group of South Korean government officials and businessmen passes the inter-Korean immigration office in South Korea's northernmost border town of Goseong on the east coast in route to North Korea's Mount Kumgang on July 13 to resolve a dispute over Pyongyang's seizure of Seoul's assets. The communist country threatened to dispose of the assets unless South Korean investors came to the resort with plans. (Yonhap)

The two Koreas held a testy meeting on Wednesday (13 July) at the Ku’mgang resort in the DPRK.  Like previous interactions, they failed to reach an agreement.  KBS World reports:

South and North Korea have reportedly held a heated debate over the South Korean assets at the Mount Geumgang resort.

A South Korean delegation of government and private company officials held a meeting with North Korean officials at Geumgangsan Hotel at the resort for about one hour on Wednesday morning.

During the meeting, the North reportedly demanded South Korean firms to have their assets registered according to its special laws on international tours to Mount Geumgang, and asked the South Korean firms to participate in international tour programs. The North said that it could lease, transfer or sell the South Korean assets if the firms do not participate in the tour programs.

The South Korean delegation, led by the Unification Ministry’s chief of Social and Cultural Exchange Division Seo Du-hyeon, reaffirmed the existing position that Seoul cannot accept any acts of infringement against property rights.

The delegation stressed that the North’s actions of freezing or seizing South Korean property, including any further possible actions taken on the assets, are a violation of agreements between the business entities from both countries, the two governments, and international regulations.

Xinhua reports:

South Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Wednesday failed to narrow gap over Seoul’s assets at the Mount Kumgang resort, Seoul’s Ministry of Unification, which oversees inter-Korean affairs, said in a press release.

A South Korean delegation composed of government officials and businessmen held heated debates with DPRK officials at Kumgang Hotel at the mountain resort earlier in the day.

During the meeting, the DPRK side informed the South that it has the right to dispose the South’s properties at the resort in accordance with its special laws on international tours to Mount Kumgang, if the South’s operators do not participate in international tour programs. It also said the South should admit its responsibility over the suspension of Mount Kumang tours, the ministry said.

On its part, the South reiterated its stance on the property issues, noting that it can not accept any acts of infringement against property rights, and the North’s new laws are a violation of related agreements and contracts between the two sides.

The DPRK side proposed further consultation over the issue, saying that it will carry out the disposal actions unilaterally unless the South gives any responses by July 29, the ministry said.

The ministry said it will seek more discussions with related companies, vowing to protect property rights of the firms involved in the project.

Last year, the DPRK unilaterally seized South Korean properties at the resort in response to what it saw as South Korea’s reluctance to reopen the suspended tours.

Tours to Mount Kumgang, launched in 1998 and run by South Korea’s Hyundai Asan Corp, were halted in 2008 soon after a South Korean female tourist was shot dead by a DPRK soldier.

Seoul has long refused to reopen the tours without a proper investigation into the shooting death and safety guarantees, while Pyongyang said it has done enough.

On another inter-Korea matter, the DPRK has reportedly released water from a dam at the DPRK-ROK border.    Yonhap (via Korea Herald) reports:

North Korea is supposed to have discharged water from a dam near the border with the South on Wednesday without advance notification, the state water agency said.

The water level on the Pilseung Bridge near the border reached 5.8 meters as of 8:25 p.m. and is increasing by 25 centimeters every hour, officials at the Korea Water Resources Corp. said.

The bridge near the Imjin River, which flows from the North to the South crossing the Demilitarized Zone, serves as a gauge of North Korea’s water discharge.

The water agency opened up 13 floodgates of the Gunnam Dam to control the water level, the officials said. The water in the dam, which went into operation last July to capture flash floods from the North, amounted to 28.22 meters as of 8:25 p.m., according to the officials.

The officials said the mark, which is below the flood indicative level of 40 meters, is the highest level ever recorded, surpassing the previous record of 26.6 meters that was touched late last month when North Korea made an unannounced dam water release.

“It seems that North Korea discharged water from the Hwanggang Dam as part of power generation efforts following recent heavy rains there,” one official in charge of the local dam said. “We have not been notified of the water release,” he said.

He said the Gunnam Dam still has room for further water storage, and no damage is expected due to the recent discharge from the North.

Hit by Typhoon Meari late in June, North Korea discharged water from the Hwanggang Dam on June 29 without notifying the South. The North opened the dam without prior notice in September 2009, leading to a flash flood that claimed six South Korean lives.

At a later inter-Korean meeting on flood control, North Korea agreed to give advance notice before future discharges.

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July 2011