North Korea on Tuesday effectively turned down Seoul's proposal to hold talks about resuming package tours to the Mt. Kumgang resort in the North.
In a message to the Unification Ministry, Pyongyang said it would agree to inter-governmental working-level talks with South Korea "on condition that the South Korean delegation will bring private businesspeople to the talks."
It added it does "not need" talks unless the South Koreans bring businesspeople to the talks or if South Korea "attempts to take advantage of the talks to stand in the way of the property cleanup negotiations." North Korea earlier seized South Korean properties at the resort and told businesses and the government to come and clear them out.
"Although it used the expression 'agree to talks,' the North seems to be bent on dissolving the South Korean properties under its special tourist zone law, so we can't accept the counterproposal," a Unification Ministry official said. "There will be no talks at this time."
In an interview with the state-run Korean Central News Agency, a spokesman for the North's bureau for the Mt. Kumgang zone claimed the tours were suspended as a result of a South Korean tourist "trespassing in a military-controlled area," for which the "South is responsible."
The reference is to the fatal shooting of a South Korean tourist in the area by a North Korean soldier in 2008.
The spokesman repeated a previous statement, urging Seoul to "send representatives of all enterprises that have property in the Mt. Kumgang area by Friday."