Seoul – North Korea said Sunday it would expel South Korean workers from a tourist region as relations worsened between the two countries over the shooting dead of a South Korean tourist by a North Korean soldier last month.
The 53-year-old woman accidentally entered an area off-limits to civilians during an early morning beach walk in the Kumgang mountains on the east coast of North Korea on July 11. Her killing was condemned by the South Korean government.
A North Korean military spokesman said Sunday “we will expel all the persons of the south side staying in the Mt Kumgang tourist area we deem unnecessary.”
The Kumgang – or “diamond” – mountains in the communist north of the divided Korean peninsula are a popular holiday destination for South Koreans. The region has been accessible for South Koreans only since the 1990s.
It is estimated that more than 260 South Koreans work at the resort.
“We will take strong military counter-actions against even the slightest hostile actions in the tourist resort in the area of Mt Kumgang and the area under the military control from now on,” the North Korean spokesman said.
North Korea has rejected South Korea’s request for a joint investigation into the tourist’s shooting.