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Kim Jong Un orders destruction of 'shabby' South Korean hotels
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Courtesy: David Chipakupaku | News Source:

Kim Jong Un has ordered the demolition of South Korean-built hotels at a resort in North Korea.

Mr Kim claims his orders came after Seoul decided it would not resume tours at the Diamond Mountain resort.

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The South Korean government, along with southern companies, built around a dozen tourist sites in North Korea, beginning in 1998.

However, the development of the Diamond Mountain resort was suspended in 2008 after a South Korean tourist was shot and killed by a North Korean guard.

State media in Pyongyang said the North Korean leader visited the resort and described it as "shabby" and lacking in character.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the Mount Kumgang tourist resort, North Korea, in this undated picture released by North Korea's Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 23, 2019. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.

Mr Kim instructed officials to entirely remove the "unpleasant-looking facilities" built by the South after discussing the matter with South Korean officials.

Mr Kim said the North would construct "new modern service facilities our own way that go well with the natural scenery of Mount Kumgang", the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

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"[Mr Kim] said that the buildings are just a hotchpotch with no national character at all, and that they were built like makeshift tents in a disaster-stricken area or isolation wards."

It was not clear whether the North intended to independently develop tourism at the site, or were attempting to pressure the South to restart tours and upgrade the current facilities.

Previously, the site had been praised as evidence of inter-Korean cooperation.

The hotels served as one of the only ways the country received foreign cash, frequently taking tourists from the South round the country.

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The Kumgangsan Hotel had a theatre, karaoke room, murals of mountains and crystal chandeliers, alongside the resort's restaurants, spas and golf course.

It drew in a fraction of the 500,000 tourists it had intended to pull in each year. Millions are believed to have been lost by investors in Seoul.

A spokesman for Seoul's Unification Ministry, Lee Sang Min, said the South will "actively defend the property rights of our people", adding that they plan to accept proposed talks with North Korea over the facilities.

Mr Lee did not offer an answer when asked if the South would do anything to stop the North if they began to destroy the sites unilaterally.

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