Seoul: North Korea said Thursday it would dispose of all assets left behind by South Korean firms involved in two now-shuttered joint projects, further raising already elevated tensions on the divided Korean peninsula.
"We will completely liquidate all assets of South Korean firms and related institutions left behind in our region," the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in statement carried by the North`s official KCNA news agency.
The projects involved are the Mount Kumgang tourism resort and the Kaesong joint industrial complex.
The committee said the move was a response to unilateral sanctions announced by South Korea on Tuesday to punish the North for its January nuclear test and last month`s long-range rocket launch.
"From this time on, we nullify all agreements adopted by North and South Korea on economic cooperation and exchange programmes," the committee said.
The South announced the suspension of operations at the Seoul-funded Kaesong industrial complex last month, saying that money Pyongyang made from the venture was going towards its nuclear weapons programme.
The shock announcement prompted the North to expel all South Koreans from the estate and freeze all assets there, shutting down the last symbol of cross-border economic cooperation.
An association representing the 120 firms operating factories in Kaesong, which lies just across the North Korean border, estimated the value of the assets left behind at 820 billion won ($663 million).
The estate employed more than 53,000 North Koreans making items such as textiles, footwear and cheap electronics.
Mount Kumgang was the first major inter-Korean cooperation project, and thousands of South Koreans visited the Seoul-funded resort between 1998 and 2008.
The South suspended the tours in 2008 after a North Korean soldier shot dead a female tourist from the South who strayed into a restricted zone.
In response, the North scrapped a deal with the resort`s developer -- Seoul`s Hyundai Asan company -- and seized its properties there.