North Korea’s provocations dim tourism prospects with the South

Early in the morning of August 6, North Korea launched several short-range missiles from a western base in South Hwanghae Province overland towards the East Sea.

The launch appears to be intended as a sign of dissent towards the routine U.S.-South Korea joint military drills, which began on August 5. The following day, North Korea’s spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed opposition to the exercises claiming that North Korea “may be forced to seek a new path.”

According to the Rodong Sinmun on August 3, Kim Jong Un said that “another eagerly anticipated Juche weapon was born.” It appears that North Korea has developed yet another missile.

Over the 13 days from July 25, North Korea has conducted four short-range missile tests and fired their new tactical guided missile. Although Kim Jong Un had promised that he wouldn’t disturb the precious sleep of South Korea’s leaders, the tests were all conducted at dawn.

Kim Jong Un himself in March 2018 told South Korea’s envoy who was visiting the North, “Until now, whenever we fired a missile, President Moon Jae In went through the trouble of convening his National Security Council (NSC) at dawn. I’ve decided today that moving forward, President Moon no longer needs to sleep restlessly.”

And in April of the same year, Kim reaffirmed to President Moon at Panmunjom that he “would avoid disturbing early morning sleep,” to which President Moon replied, “From now on, I will stretch my legs and sleep comfortably.”

Yet an emergency NSC meeting was indeed held on August 6 at 7:30am at the Blue House, with President Moon likely woken up early to receive reports for the past 13 days in response to the North’s morning launches.
This can be seen as an affront to President Moon who has sought to mediate reconciliation between North Korea and the United States.

According to the August 2nd Rodong Sinmun article, “Let’s Strengthen with Unwavering Determination and Confidence the Construction of the Wonsan-Kalma Coastal Tourist Zone,” the North has mobilized government workers and soldiers to develop the Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist site during the hot tropical weather.

North Korea plans to build nearly 170 hotels, restaurants, and entertainment facilities on the Kalma Peninsula by April 2019, so that nearly 1 million people can enjoy the area’s coastline over the summer season.

But given North Korea’s population, transportation infrastructure around the Kalma Peninsula, and the living standards of the average North Korean, exactly how many people will travel to the Wonsan-Kalma Peninsula for summer bathing remains to be seen.

Ultimately, Kim Jong Un’s tactic may be to invite a large number of South Korean tourists and empty their pockets. But if provocations with missile launches continue near tourist spots, it is doubtful how many from the South will disregard their safety for a vacation on the Kalma Peninsula.

If Kim Jong Un truly wants peace on the Korean Peninsula, the missile provocations and unproductive slander against South Korea must cease, and focus must instead turn to inter-Korean dialogue and negotiations with the United States.

*Views expressed in Guest Columns do not necessarily reflect those of Daily NK.

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