South Korea said Monday it will not accept unilateral measures announced by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to dispose of all South Korean properties at a mountain resort jointly managed by the two Koreas.
In a statement carried by the state media, the DPRK said it believes South Korea "totally abandoned the protection of property and interests of enterprises" and vowed to dispose of all South Korean assets at the Mount Kumgang resort.
"The government cannot accept North Korea (DPRK)'s arbitrary measures, and we'd like to make it clear the North should be held responsible for all consequences," Chun Hae-sung, spokesman for the unification ministry in Seoul, told reporters in a briefing. The ministry oversees inter-Korean affairs.
"The government will seek all necessary measures including legal and diplomatic ones, and will stay in close contact with business operators involved," he added, calling Pyongyang's announcement "regrettable."
The once-lucrative tours to the scenic mountain, launched in 1998 amid growing rapprochement, were suspended in 2008 after shooting death of a South Korean tourist who ventured into a restricted military zone.
Seoul has long refused to reopen the tours without a proper investigation into the death and safety guarantees. But Pyongyang, claiming it has done enough, terminated its deal with Hyundai Asan, a tour operator, and announced its plan to develop the area into a special zone for international tours.
The arbitrary measure is seen here as Pyongyang's response to Seoul's reluctance to resume the suspended tours, once a rare source of hard cash for Pyongyang.
The assets subject to the planned disposal, including restaurants and a golf course, are believed to be worth 325.5 million U.S. dollars.