The Korean Peninsula is constantly building up a great tension, due to theutterance made by Kim Jong Un, who is currently the head of the Korean Worker’s Party in North Korea. He ordered his government officers to stay away from the facilities that South Korea has established for them when he visited the Diamond Mountain (Mt. Geumgang). This hostility toward South Korea implies a negative signal that the relation between the two is worsening and further leads to a break in peace, causing anxiety to citizens.
On October 23, Kim made a striking statement straightly toward South Korea. According to Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), one of North’s state media, he visited Mt. Geumgang and ordered government officials to sweep out all the facilities built by the South. He said that they were not wellmanaged but also do not have any beauty as a tour place. Therefore, he mentioned the shocking order through the public news agency, as well as t a r g e t i n g t h e S o u t h K o r e a n government.
Conflict Disregarding the Past Effort for Peace According to Rodong Sinmun, the main purpose of Kim’s claim is that he is going to make Mt. Geumgang an area for tourist attraction and a cultural zone where people and foreign visitors can enjoy its beauty on their fullest. Kim is trying to make facilities which also portray a beautiful natural scenery for the tourists in the area. Kim, who had warned of a major decision by riding a white horse on Mountain Paekdu on Wednesday, put pressure on South Korea and the United States (U.S.) to lift sanctions on the North by declaring the removal of the facilities.
This is an important issue in the current Korean Peninsula because it can intensify the conflict between South, North, and U.S., disregarding the past historical efforts to establish peace. In this current situation, some people worry that Hyundai Group’s past decision by the leader Jeong Joo-yeong is now considered as mistaken— consenting with the North’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee for renting the Mt. Geumgang area for 50 years to conduct the tourism project.
Previous Historical Efforts of Cooperation Between North and South
Tours to Mt. Geumgang are currently suspended since the shooting of a South Korean tourist, Park Wang-ja in 2008 and are subject to South Korea’s sanctions. However, according to t h e S o u t h K o r e a n government official under the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution, tours to North Korea should not be restricted. Furthermore, any economic cooperation with the North is prohibited. “Resuming tours to Mt . G eumg ang , an economic cooperation project, is a possible violation of sanctions,” asserts the South Korean government.
Furthermore, Resolution 2375 also bans the employment of North Korean workers. People and businesses of all United Nation (UN) member states are not allowed to make commercial investments in North Korea or hire North Korean nationals. However, currently there are no more South Korean workers in the place, and this caused the lack of management in that area.
Nevertheless, Kim mentioned the end of the tour by visiting the site in person, which analysts say was aimed at the “three-pronged sanctions net” that includes sanctions by South Korea and the U.S. on their own and sanctions by the Security Council. Woo Jung-yup, the head of the U.S. research center at the Sejong Institute, analyzed that Kim’s field guidance at Mt. Geumgang was a serious message to South Korea. It would no longer lean on inter-Korean economic cooperation, while also c a l l i n g o n t h e U. S . t o m a k e concessions to “Bring a flexible stance on sanction issues before closing the door of diplomatic engagement.”
Kim’s declaration could be seen as a p r e v i e w o f d e n u c l e a r i z a t i o n negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea. At the time when Kim set the end of this year as the deadline for denuclearization negotiations, pressure is still remaining; if the U.S. does not lift the sanctions, it will overturn the plate and go on its independent path that North Korea will disregard any order from the whole international society. North Korea had already given a threat by defying the denuclearization process. Kim had resuming nuclear tests and long-range missile tests by saying, “We are being pushed to the point where we have to review all the measures so far.”
Possible Conflicts—About to Happen
While declaring the discontinuation of tour plans with the South, Kim ordered the North to agree with South’s related sectors. “If the North makes a request, we will continue to discuss the protection of the property rights of the South Korean people, the spirit of the inter-Korean agreement, and the resumption and activation of the tour program at any time,” said Lee Sang-min, a spokesman for the Unification Ministry. Since March, North Korea has refrained from any direct contact except for the joint inter-Korean liaison office in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which is likely to set up a venue for contact regarding the removal of South Korean facilities at the resort.
If the two Koreas start negotiating over tours, the North is likely to demand that it choose between resuming the tours and withdrawing the South. On the other hand, the U.S. has a strong stance that the resumption of tours should keep pace with North’s denuclearization. This raise concerns that issue of Mt. Geumgang tour project could spark a conflict between South Korea and U.S.
Because North and South Korea have deep and serious relationships over the past days, the current conflict could be regarded as one of the common incidents among those historical problem. There were many efforts to release the conflict between them, and the public is willing for peace in the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, it is needed for more effort to have a conversation between two countries and solve historical problems which are remaining until nowadays.