‘Mount Geum­gang tourism doesn’t vi­o­late UN sanc­tions’

The Korea Times - - NATIONAL - By Kim Yoo-chul, Do Je-hae yckim, [email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

Reopening Mount Geum­gang tourism doesn’t vi­o­late sanc­tions, Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in said Fri­day, adding his ad­min­is­tra­tion would pur­sue a new ap­proach to make the joint in­ter-Korean project hap­pen.

“Re­gard­ing the Mount Geum­gang tourism project, tourism it­self doesn’t vi­o­late the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (UNSC) sanc­tions. But what mat­ters is that the trans­fer of pay­ment is some­thing that would vi­o­late the eco­nomic sanc­tions,” Pres­i­dent Moon said at the start of a din­ner meet­ing with Cheong Wa Dae press corps held in Nokji­won at the pres­i­den­tial of­fice, ac­cord­ing to press pool re­ports.

Moon said the South Korean gov­ern­ment would pur­sue a “new way” for an early re­sump­tion of the in­ter-Korean tour pro­gram. “Be­cause of the on­go­ing UNSC sanc­tions, it’s dif­fi­cult to push for­ward with ex­ist­ing meth­ods,” Moon said. Re­gard­ing the specifics of a “new way,” the Pres­i­dent didn’t elab­o­rate.

His re­marks came a few hours af­ter the South’s uni­fi­ca­tion min­istry ac­cepted an of­fer from North Korea to dis­cuss is­sues re­lat­ing to the fate of South Korean-made build­ings and struc­tures at the re­sort in North Korea, af­ter North Korean leader Kim Jong-un or­dered their de­mo­li­tion.

Along with the Gae­seong In­dus­trial Com­plex, the Mount Geum­gang project is an­other sym­bolic in­ter-Korean busi­ness project. When Moon held his sum­mit with Kim in Septem­ber 2018 in Py­ongyang, the two lead­ers agreed to re­sume co­op­er­a­tion on these two sus­pended eco­nomic projects, which are also core sources of in­come for the cash-strapped and im­pov­er­ished North.

Pres­i­dent Moon floated the idea of propos­ing a sanc­tions waiver to U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and the lead­ers of China, France, Rus­sia and the United King­dom, the five coun­tries hav­ing per­ma­nent seats on the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

But Moon’s ef­forts were in vain, as some sanc­tions are more com­plex than oth­ers and touch on an even wider set of sanc­tions.

This year, Kim has pro­moted he will shift his top pri­or­ity in state af­fairs to boost his coun­try’s eco­nomic vi­tal­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts, that re­quires eas­ing the stiff sanc­tions, win­ning more for­eign aid and at­tract­ing more for­eign in­vest­ment.

But Wash­ing­ton was wor­ry­ing that the reopening of the in­dus­trial com­plex and the Mount Geum­gang re­sort will vi­o­late the UNSC sanc­tions of­fer­ing po­lit­i­cal risk in­sur­ance, and lead to the trans­fer of “bulk cash” to North Korea.

In re­cent work­ing-level de­nu­cle­ariza­tion talks be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Py­ongyang ne­go­tia­tors, the United States of­fered “lim­ited sanc­tions re­lief” al­low­ing the North to ex­port some raw ma­te­ri­als such as coal.

But the North didn’t ac­cept the of­fer as the stream­lined sanc­tions pro­vi­sion wasn’t “good enough” as a ben­e­fit in re­turn for pre­sent­ing de­tailed and com­pre­hen­sive de­nu­cle­ariza­tion steps.

‘Kim Jong-un prom­ises to de­nu­cle­arize’

Pres­i­dent Moon said he still be­lieves Kim’s re­peated prom­ises to end his nu­clear pro­gram.

“The two Koreas are re­fer­ring to com­plete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion. That is the same level of de­nu­cle­ariza­tion that Wash­ing­ton wants. In that con­text, Kim told me sev­eral times he will do that. Kim’s will­ing­ness to­ward clos­ing his nu­clear pro­gram has been clearly shared with all who met with him in­clud­ing U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping,” Moon said.

But the South Korean leader said the com­plete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the North would only come af­ter Kim’s “con­di­tions” are met.

“If se­cu­rity guar­an­tees are pro­vided and the bright fu­ture of North Korea is en­sured, then Kim will keep his re­peated prom­ises.”

It re­mains to be seen whether the United States will back up Kim’s wishes via di­a­logue, Moon said.

“When I de­liv­ered my speech to North Korean cit­i­zens dur­ing my visit to Py­ongyang, it was just mo­men­tous and emo­tional. But I feel the re­la­tions be­tween the North and South seem to have re­turned to the past.”

In a ques­tion over the pos­si­bil­ity for a Cabi­net reshuf­fle, Moon said he isn’t con­sid­er­ing reshuf­fling his Cabi­net any­time but soon.

“Ex­cept for the nom­i­na­tion of jus­tice min­is­ter, there will be no Cabi­net reshuf­fle. Also, I won’t be he­si­tant in ap­point­ing a jus­tice min­is­ter,” the Pres­i­dent Moon said.

The jus­tice min­is­ter po­si­tion is blank af­ter Pres­i­dent Moon ac­cepted an of­fer of res­ig­na­tion from Cho Kuk over Cho’s al­leged in­volve­ment in var­i­ous fi­nan­cial crimes and wrong­do­ings by his wife for their daugh­ter’s ad­mis­sion to a med­i­cal school.

Pres­i­dent Moon’s ap­point­ment of Cho trig­gered a cri­sis for Moon and his ad­min­is­tra­tion which se­verely dented their pop­u­lar­ity.


Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in, fifth from left, de­liv­ers his open­ing speech at the start of a din­ner meet­ing with Cheong Wa Dae press corps held in Nokji­won at the pres­i­den­tial of­fice, Fri­day.

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