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North and South Korea agree to hold talks over disputed tourist resort

The dispute over a mountain resort inside the North's border began in 2008 when a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier.

Mount kumgang optEnlarge
A South Korean man walks by an advertisement for a controversial resort on Mount Kumgang. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

Pyongyang agreed Tuesday to engage in a new round of talks with South Korea aimed at ending an ongoing dispute between the two regarding tourist visits to a mountain area inside the north's border.

In a statement, the South Korean government said that North Korea had agreed to participate in working-level negotiations on the condition that private businessmen involved in the tourist operation take part in the talks, Xinhua reports.

South Korean tours to Mount Kumgang were launched in 1998 but suspended in 2008 after a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier. Seoul has called for further investigation into the incident, but Pyongyang has refused and last year it seized South Korean properties at the resort over the South's seeming reluctance to recommence the tourist trips.

Despite two rounds of talks on the long-running dispute over the joint resort, the two Koreas remain at an impasse over the issue.

Reuters reports that Pyongyang says it wants to develop the resort itself and has threatened to take "firm action on the legal disposal of South's real estate in Kumgang". 

(Read more Global Post coverage: North Korean envoy to visit New York to discuss nuclear talks)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/110726/north-korea-south-korea-tourist-talks-negotiations