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North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly has officially terminated all economic cooperation agreements with South Korea, a move signaling a further decline in inter-Korean relations, according to the state-run KCNA news agency.
This decision encompasses the cancellation of specific laws that governed economic relations, notably the Mount Kumgang tourism project operation, once a rare point of collaboration between the two Koreas.
The suspension of the Mount Kumgang project in 2008, after the fatal shooting of a South Korean tourist by North Korean guards, marks a significant setback in the efforts towards economic cooperation initiated in the early 2000s. Hyundai Asan, the Hyundai Group affiliate that invested heavily in the project, has refrained from commenting on this recent development. In response, South Korea’s Unification Ministry, responsible for managing relations with the North, stated, “The North’s action was not surprising and would only deepen its isolation.”
The announcement did not address the status of the Kaesong industrial zone, another critical joint economic venture, highlighting selective enforcement of this policy change. Amidst escalating tensions, North Korea’s declaration of viewing the South as an enemy and the scrapping of a 2018 military agreement to ease border conflicts highlights the rising tensions between both countries.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol described the shift in North Korea’s policy towards the South as “an extraordinary change,” yet pointed out the difficulty in discerning the rationale behind such moves.