The government has announced that 14 South Korean citizens and two ethnic Chinese-Koreans formerly residing in the Mt Geumgang resort region were due to return to South Korea this morning.
According to a government official, “The 14 people are expected to return at 11:20 this morning via the Inter-Korean Immigration Office on the east coast after crossing the Military Demarcation Line.”
“In order to prioritize the safety of our citizens, we anticipate responding to North Korea’s unilateral measure after their repatriation,” the official went on, noting, “When they return, we will listen to their news of the current circumstances within the Mt Geumgang zone and judge the real situation.”
The repatriations come after North Korea announced yesterday via a spokesperson that all South Korean assets at Mt Geumgang are set to be disposed of, and so, “All those currently residing in the region must leave within 72 hours.”
However, the government official also commented on the North Korean threat today, “We will wait and see what North Korea actually does regarding assets at Mt Geumgang and formulate a response,” while adding of North Korea’s invitation to outside investors to come in on the project, “It seems to be less of a concrete offer and more about showing something to the outside world, and it is not at the stage of pilot tours to which the government should respond.”
Nevertheless, the government is known to be exploring its options should North Korea carry out its threats in their entirety, including the possibility of taking the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).
There is also the option of using diplomatic channels to let would-be investors in third countries know of the injustice of the North Korean moves and persuade them not to take part.
South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is known to have previously done something similar, requesting that China not allow domestic tour operators to take tours to the Mt Geumgang region.