PYONGYANG, Oct. 23 (CGTN) -- The leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un ordered the removal of all facilities built by the Republic of Korea (ROK) and construction of the country's own facilities, during his visit of the Mount Kumgang tourist resort, Pyongyang's state news agency KCNA reported Wednesday.
People from the ROK were allowed to visit Mt. Kumgang starting in 1998 by sea and from 2003 by land, with the ROK's firms such as Hyundai Asan Corp investing in the tourist resort.
However, the ROK suspended tours to Mt. Kumgang in 2008 after a DPRK guard shot dead a ROK tourist who had wandered unknowingly into a military area.
Mt. Kumgang, along with the now-suspended industrial park in the DPRK's border town of Kaesong, has been one of two major inter-Korean economic projects, and regarded as symbol of cooperation between the two countries.
Kim, while inspecting the tourist spot on the east coast of the DPRK, said it was a "mistaken idea" for Mt. Kumgang to be viewed as a symbol of inter-Korean relations, underscoring that it is the DPRK's soil, and tourism there must not be under the control of the ROK.
"We will always welcome our compatriots from the south if they want to come to Mt. Kumgang after it is wonderfully built as the world-level tourist destination," Kim added.
ROK-funded facilities have remained there since then but tours from the country have not resumed amid international sanctions trying to force the DPRK to give up its nuclear weapons programs.
Kim criticized the "mistaken policy of the predecessors" who were dependent on others to develop the tourist spot, and said Mt. Kumgang must be taken care of as part of a larger tourist area that encompasses the mountain and the Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist area, KCNA said.
Wonsan-Kalma is a major development project pushed ahead by Kim after he came to power.
"Mt. Kumgang is our land won at the cost of blood and even a cliff and a tree on it are associated with our sovereignty and dignity," he was quoted as saying. "He set forth detailed tasks for wonderfully developing modern cultural tourist resort in Mt. Kumgang area so that the people can rest, fully enjoying the natural scenery of the country."
Kim said the DPRK should seek agreement with relevant ROK authorities the removal of the facilities, KCNA added.