Seoul's Unification Minister says North Korea's notice to the South on its plan to remove South Korean-built facilities at Mount Geumgang appears to be Pyongyang's way of expressing its intent to resume tours to the mountain on its own.

Speaking at a National Assembly budget committee meeting Tuesday, Kim Yeon-chul said Pyongyang's move may also be aimed at urging Seoul to promptly restart tour programs.

Kim said the government is holding talks with related business operators, including Hyundai Asan, but direct discussions with North Korea are the best way to address the issue.

Regarding possible "creative solutions" the ministry had previously mentioned, Kim said Geumgang is not only a tourist area but also a venue for family reunions and social and cultural exchanges. He said close consultations are under way with related parties concerning immediate and long term projects possible at the resort.

He said the global environment, inter-Korean relations and public sentiment in South Korea must also be considered.

[Photo : YONHAP News]