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`N. Korea to Directly Take Over Mt. Kumgang Tour`

Posted April. 26, 2010 03:32,   


North Korea seeks to directly handle tours to the Mount Kumgang area after forcing South Korea out of the venture, said a source on North Korean affairs yesterday.

Korea Taepung International Investment Group, an agency under the North’s powerful National Defense Commission, has reportedly recruited Chinese companies to help operate the tour since January this year.

The source said, “Negotiations have significantly progressed in certain aspects,” adding, “I understand the North Korean leadership is considering directly operating the Mount Kumgang tour by getting Taepung or an agency under the National Defense Commission to hire multiple Chinese companies as agencies after forcing the Hyundai Group out of Mount Kumgang and Kaesong.”

Another informed source said, “Since Taepung is an agency that holds overall authority over attracting investment for the North’s national development, the group is believed to be advising and supervising efforts to resume the Mount Kumgang tour as well.”

On this, a South Korean government source said, “Even if the North severs ties with Hyundai Asan Corp., complicated legal action will continue over the North’s violation of the contract,” adding, “No Chinese company will seek to serve as a comprehensive business operator, so the new plan appears to be the most practical alternative for North Korea.”

If Taepung or an agency under the defense commission starts to operate the tour directly, the tour program will likely be operated under a completely different system.

The tour’s South Korean operator, Hyundai Asan, has wielded comprehensive and monopolistic rights to the venture, but North Korea appears to have taken over as the operator, with multiple foreign companies taking part.

An agency under the North’s defense commission or military will likely step forward to operate the tour in lieu of Pyongyang’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee under the ruling Workers’ Party or the Landmark General Development Bureau under the North Korean Cabinet.