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North Korea scraps all economic cooperation with South Korea

North Korea scraps all economic cooperation with South Korea North Korea terminates economic cooperation with the South (photo:

North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly has voted to cancel all agreements signed with South Korea regarding the development of economic cooperation. The reason cited is the rapid deterioration of relations between the two states, according to Reuters.

The assembly, which takes formal steps to adopt policy dictated by the ruling Workers' Party, also voted to abolish laws governing economic ties with Seoul, including the special law on the operation of the Mount Kumgang tourism project.

The tours to the scenic mountain just north of the eastern border were a symbol of an economic cooperation that began during a period of engagement between the two Koreas in early 2000s, drawing nearly 2 million South Korean visitors.

The project was suspended in 2008 after a South Korean tourist who strayed into a restricted zone was shot and killed by North Korean guards.

Pyongyang has stated that it now regards the South with hostility, which remains in a state of war. Last year, North Korea tore up the military pact signed in 2018 aimed at de-escalating tensions along the military border established as part of the ceasefire that ended the Korean War of 1950-1953.

In a pre-recorded interview with the state-run KBS channel aired late Wednesday, February 7, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol called North Korea's shift in inter-Korean policy an extraordinary change. He also added that he finds it difficult to understand the reason behind such a decision.

"What hasn't changed is that the North has tried for more than 70 years to turn us into Communists, and while doing that, it realized its conventional weapons were insufficient so they went onto nuclear development to threaten us," he said.

Yoon Suk, who has taken a hard line against Pyongyang, said he remains open to engaging the North, even by holding a summit meeting with Kim, and provide aid if it would help its economy, but said the North Korean leadership is not a rational group.

Since taking power in 2011, Kim has pushed the North to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles of various ranges escalating tension with South Korea and the U.S. even as its economy languished.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) separately reported that Kim on Wednesday toured factories producing consumer goods and food, and gave guidance on modernizing the facilities as part of implementing a new regional development policy.

Provocations by North Korea

Over the past weeks, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made a series of statements indicating his desire and readiness to initiate war with South Korea.

Specifically, he has called for the strengthening of the country's naval forces to enhance readiness for war and defend maritime sovereignty. Additionally, North Korea conducted three rounds of missile launches over the week, including test firings of a new strategic submarine-launched ballistic missile.

However, media reports suggest that Pyongyang may have a compelling reason to avoid escalating conflict, as the pace of North Korea's economic growth has reached its highest level in nearly a decade due to arms sales from Russia.

Meanwhile, South Korea has expressed dissatisfaction with Russia over its cooperation with North Korea.