The resumption of South Korean tours to Mount Kumgang, North Korea's famous resort, could be problematic because of a United Nations resolution, according to Seoul's ambassador to the United Nations.
Ambassador Oh Joon this week said restarting the tours is not the problem but that "the method of payment could be problematic."
Recently, some observers in Seoul have speculated that the South Korean government might consider resuming the tour project as part of its efforts to improve relations with the North.
The South Korean diplomat was referring to a U.N. Security Council resolution which imposes new sanctions to block financial transactions in support of illicit DPRK activity, crack down on bulk cash transfers, and further restrict ties to North Korea’s financial sector, if there is a link to illegal activity.
Oh said even if the payment goes through a financial institution, the fund will be scrutinized for its possible contribution to the North’s weapons development. He added there needs to be a clear guarantee that any large sum of money will not be used for weapons development.
In 2002, North Korea established a special administrative region near Kumgang to accommodate South Korean tourist traffic to the scenic mountain, which served as a key source of hard currency for the impoverished country.
Seoul, however, halted all trips after a South Korean tourist was shot to death in 2008 during her stay in the region.
The resolution was adopted unanimously in March 2013 after the North conducted its third nuclear test.
Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.