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North Korea to dismiss South Korean tour-zone staff

Latest update : 2008-08-03

North Korea said Sunday it would expel South Korean staff from the Keum Kang resort, following a July 11 incident in which North Korean soldiers shot and killed a South Korean tourist. The North has warned of military action.


Pyongyang said on Sunday it would expel "unnecessary" South Korean staff from a mountain resort in the North and warned of possible military action, escalating tension over the killing of a South Korean tourist last month.


A tourist from the South was shot dead on July 11 when she wandered into a military zone near the scenic Mt. Kumgang resort, a South Korea-run enclave just north of the heavily militarised border.


A spokesman for the North Korean army unit stationed in the Mt. Kumgang area issued a statement to reiterate an earlier explanation that the tourist had ignored demands to stop, and accused the South of "driving the frozen inter-Korean relations to a catastrophic phase".


"We will expel all the persons of the South side staying in the Mt. Kumgang area we deem unnecessary," the spokesman said, according to the North's official news agency KCNA.


Tourism to the resort has been suspended since the shooting, but tour operator Hyundai Asan has kept staff there for maintenance. Seoul's Yonhap News said there are about 300 South Koreans staying in Mt. Kumgang.


"We will take strong military counter-actions against even the slightest hostile actions in the tourist resort," it said, adding the passage of people and vehicles to Mt. Kumgang through the military demarcation line will be more strictly limited.


The army was taking those steps to cope with "grave provocation" from South Korea that is trying to pass on the blame to the North, the spokesman said.


North Korea said Park Wang-ja , 53 strayed deep into a
military area and ran away from soldiers, who tried to stop the
"intruder" several times before opening fire.

But South Korean investigators said on Friday that Park was
likely shot at closer range as she was standing or walking
slowly, contradicting the North's explanation.

Pyongyang has refused the South's request for joint



Date created : 2008-08-03