The Mount Kumgang resort was once a rare symbol of inter-Korean cooperation and peace. Located in the west of the peninsula on the border between North and South, over ten years some 1 million South Koreans visited the area in tours organized by Hyundai Asan, a subsidiary of the famous car company and a major investor in “Sunshine”-era projects.
But in July 2008 that all changed. A 53-year-old South Korean woman was shot by a North Korean soldier while entering what Pyongyang claimed was a restricted military area, and visits were suspended.
Coming as the incident did just months after the inauguration of the conservative President Lee Myung-bak, South Korea’s ban on visits to the resort marked a symbolic end to the idealistic “Sunshine” goals of the previous ten years. And while the area has played host to several family reunion events since then, it certainly no longer sees the numbers it once did.
But what happened to the resort once the South Koreans left? How has it changed since 2008? And what is left of the South Korean property that was left behind? To find out, NK News acquired photos taken at the resort in October 2016 and March 2017 and shared them with Kim Ha-young, a press official from Hyundai Asan, who visited the area many times when it was open to South Koreans.
Kim and Hyundai Asan, he said, last visited the Mount Kumgang resort in December 2015 for maintenance purposes and since then, the company has not had the opportunity to enter the area.
The future of the resort is unclear: the South Korean government’s decision last year to put an end to all inter-Korean meetings suggested to many that a reopening might never happen, but with Moon Jae-in now in the Blue House – and keen to restart inter-Korean initiatives – Mt Kumgang may not be deserted for long.
All comments by Kim Ha-young.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
All photos credit to NK News