At the famous resort of Keumgang mountain several kilometers away from the demarcation line dividing the Korean Peninsula, an ocean liner-turned-hotel is docked by a village catering to foreign and domestic tourists.
The hotel, named after the legendary mountain itself, looks as if it were abandoned. Due to the ongoing suspension of South Korean tourists, not a single guest from the South was seen inside the hotel, with only a few men loitering or fishing at the dock.
A few groups of tourists from China, Europe and Japan still visit the resort, which faces the South Korean border from sea. Telecommunication signals from the South are easily accessible.
Seemingly a reminder of the tensions encompassing the peninsula, the thundering "boom, boom" sound from shelling exercises can be heard from the southern side, which features a beautiful scenery, dotted with tiny islands and rocks embraced by the rhythmic lapping of soothing waves at the east coast.
Kim, a 25-year-old tour guide, is a government employee whose job is to accompany tourists to trek along an 8-km mountain trail of fantastic rocks, falls, creeks, flower fields and forests.
After many years of experience in this occupation, Kim, who has only given us her last name, can tell of the legends inherited over generations about the mountain, the pride of both north and south Koreans.
"The mountain is our national treasure, full of stories from the ancient past familiar to ourselves and tourists from the south," she said.
As senior officials from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and South Korea held on Tuesday their first ministerial-level meeting in two years, the Keumgang mountain was mentioned by the media as the site of a tourism project which would potentially see inter-Korean cooperation.
Apart from the DPRK athletes participating in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics next month, other issues -- especially those that will possibly help de-escalate the situation on the Korean Peninsula -- are eagerly expected and closely monitored by the international community.
The situation on the Korean Peninsula has reached a dangerous point due to Pyongyang's successive nuclear and ballistic missile tests as well as U.S.-South Korea joint military drills last year.
Pyongyang has vowed to continue its weapons programs in defiance of a slew of United Nations sanctions resolutions.
The high-level talks, held at the South Korean side of the Panmunjom truce village along the 38 parallel that divides the two Koreas as the result of the 1950-53 Korean War, came after DPRK top leader Kim Jong Un said in his New Year's Day speech that his country is open to reducing tensions.
Tourism in the DPRK has been hit hard by the UN sanctions, though it is not included in the clause of resolutions.
Over the past two decades, Pyongyang has built many tourist resorts for foreign tourists, many of whom turn out to be South Koreans, eager to see the historical sites and natural wonders in the northern part of the peninsula.
The general public in the DPRK appeared cautiously optimistic about the perspective of detente this year. When asked about her feelings about improving relations with the South, the 24-year-old waitress with a family name of U who works at a restaurant in the diplomatic enclave here said she is happy about it.
"Of course, we are happy to see the South change their policy towards us. The relations were damaged by (former South Korean President) Park Geun-hye," she said.