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North Korea seizes South Korea's Mount Kumgang assets

North Korea gives South Koreans 72 hours to leave the resort.

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(Antler)

North Korea reportedly gave South Korean tourism officials an ultimatum Monday that all must leave a tourist resort within 72 hours as the North will start auctioning-off South Korean-owned hotels and restaurants. The move will likely raise tensions between the North and South.

The resort at Mount Kumgang lies just inside North Korea and has been closed since a dispute in 2008. Officials from the North said time has run out to resolve the dispute, and they will consider South Korean assets abandoned, BBC reports.

"We consider that the South has completely given up all rights on properties owned by South Korean companies and now start legal disposal of them," the North's state news agency Korean Central News Agency reported.

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The move comes after months of threats.

The resort opened in 1998 and helped "usher in a period of detente between the two Koreas that would last a decade," reports the New York Times. Tens of thousands of tourists visited the site every year.

However, a South Korean tourist was shot dead at the resort in July 2008 by North Korean soldiers amidst worsening relations between the countries. The female tourist had reportedly strayed outside the tourism zone. Joint operations were then suspended.

The South said it will not restart tours into the North allows an on-site investigation, AFP reports.

North Korea separately confiscated other facilities owned by South Korea like a spa and duty free shop.

The move by North Korea comes as the rogue country faces further isolation and is in need of foreign aid and funds as it struggles with famine and natural disasters, AFP reports.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/110822/north-korea-seizes-south-koreas-mount-kumgang-assets