North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered the removal of "unpleasant-looking" hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions -- constructed by South Korea -- at the North's Mt. Kumgang resort, state-run media reported Wednesday.
While the resort was developed more than a decade ago as a symbol of collaboration, South Korean tours have been suspended since 2008 after one of its tourists was shot dead by a North Korean soldier for crossing into an off-limits zone.
Previously, North Korea had called for a resumption of the tour program, which earned the country much-needed foreign currency.
But with inter-Korean ties apparently soured, Pyongyang intends to develop the site on its own, the official Korean Central News Agency report indicated.
When he visited the resort, Kim ordered the removal of "all the unpleasant-looking facilities of the south side with an agreement with the relevant unit of the south side," according to KCNA.
The leader also expressed eagerness to "build new modern service facilities our own way," the news agency said, adding he made "sharp criticism of the very wrong, dependent policy of predecessors who were going to rely on others when the country was not strong enough."
Facilities in the tourist area are "just a hotchpotch with no national character at all" and "not only very backward in terms of architecture but look shabby, as they are not properly taken care of," Kim said.
However, he was also quoted as saying, "We will always welcome our compatriots from the south if they want to come to Mt. Kumgang after it is wonderfully built as a world-class tourist destination."
He was accompanied on the trip by Kim Yo Jong -- his sister and a senior member of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea -- as well as the nation's First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, KCNA said. It is unclear when the visit took place.
Mt. Kumgang is located along North Korea's east coast, near the border with South Korea. It became a popular destination for South Koreans when it was opened to them in 1998 under Kim's father, Kim Jong Il.
South Korean President Moon Jae In has been trying to restart the joint project, but no concrete moves have been made, due largely to international sanctions aimed at thwarting the North's nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions.