Seoul proposes meeting with Pyongyang on dormant North Korean tour project

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, visits the Diamond Mountain resort in Kumgang, North Korea. (KCNA/Korea News Service via AP)
Updated 29 October 2019

Seoul proposes meeting with Pyongyang on dormant North Korean tour project

  • Kim Jong Un last week ordered the destruction of Seoul-built facilities in North Korea’s Diamond Mountain resort
  • The inter-Korean tourism project began in 1998 and was a rare source of foreign currency for the impoverished North

SEOUL, South Korea: South Korea on Monday proposed a face-to-face meeting with North Korea over the fate of a long-shuttered joint tourist project at a scenic North Korean mountain.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week ordered the destruction of South Korean-built facilities at the North’s Diamond Mountain resort, saying they look “shabby” and “unpleasant-looking.” North Korea later proposed an exchange of documents to work out details.
The inter-Korean tourism project began in 1998 and was a rare source of foreign currency for the impoverished North, but it was halted in 2008 when a North Korean soldier fatally shot a South Korean tourist there.
Pyongyang has called for the project’s restart since it entered nuclear diplomacy with Washington and Seoul last year. But Seoul cannot revive tours to the mountain and other massive stalled inter-Korean economic projects while international sanctions remain in place over the North’s nuclear program.
On Monday, South Korea sent a message proposing officials from the two Koreas meet to discuss issues on the tourist project including the North’s push to tear down South Korean-constructed facilities there, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry. Spokesman Lee Sang-min said South Korea hasn’t yet proposed a specific date and location for that meeting.
Lee said South Korea has determined there should be “some sort of meeting” between the two Koreas to discuss the issue.
The South Korean-made facilities include hotels, restaurants, spas and a golf course.
North Korea didn’t immediately respond to South Korea’s proposals.


Philippines lowers volcano alert, thousands can return home

Updated 59 min 23 sec ago

Philippines lowers volcano alert, thousands can return home

  • The nation’s seismological agency said steadily shrinking ash and gas emissions were signs of “decreased tendency toward hazardous explosive eruption”
  • The immediate impact of the reduced warning was provincial authorities lifting the evacuation order for nearly all the towns that ring the volcano

MANILA: A major explosion of the Philippines’ restive Taal volcano no longer appears imminent, authorities said Sunday as they partially lifted a mass evacuation order but warned residents should still remain ready to flee.
Warning signs like earthquakes have been steadily waning since Taal burst to life two weeks ago, prompting at least 135,000 people into evacuation centers over fears of a massive eruption.
The nation’s seismological agency said steadily shrinking ash and gas emissions were signs of “decreased tendency toward hazardous explosive eruption,” leading them to drop the alert by a notch.
The immediate impact of the reduced warning was provincial authorities lifting the evacuation order for nearly all the towns that ring the volcano, a tourist attraction that sits in the middle of a lake.
“Residents of all towns under lockdown except Agoncillo and Laurel now have the option to return,” local governor Hermilando Mandanas told a press conference.
“There’s a possibility that the volcano may still erupt and we should still be ready to evacuate in one hour.”
The volcano shot ash 15 kilometers (nine miles) high and spewed lava in the January 12 eruption, which crushed scores of homes and killed livestock as well as crops.
However, seismologists warned the volcano could imminently unleash a much bigger eruption, posing a deadly risk to anyone in a 14-kilometer radius “danger zone.”
Taal, located just 60 kilometers from the capital Manila, is one of the most active volcanoes in a country where eruptions and earthquakes are a dangerous part of life.
Its last eruption was in 1977, but it has a long history of activity. In 1965, a Taal eruption killed some 200 people.
The most powerful volcanic explosion in the Philippines in recent years was the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, about 100 kilometers northwest of Manila, which killed more than 800 people.

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