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NK May Allow Land Route For Mt. Kumgang Tour

Posted May. 22, 2001 07:52,   


It was reported that North Korea sent out a message that conveyed the plan for `first, nominalization of watertransport operations, and second, opening a land route to Mt. Kumgang and the designation of a special tourist zone with regard to the endangered Mt. Kumgang tour business` due to the reduced operation services of tourist ship and other pending issues.

A high-ranking official said, `` If Hyundai solves the problem of the overdue balance, North Korea is willing to proceed talks with South Korean government officials over issues related to Mt. Kumgang tour project, including opening a land route to Mt. Kumgang, in order to guarantee the profitability.``

In relation to this, Kim Yun-Kyu, president of Hyundai Asan, planned to visit Mt. Kumgang on 22nd and return on 25th after negotiating with the North Korean authorities.

However, the government officials said that ``North Korea has maintained to solve the problems while keeping Mt. Kumgang tour project intact. This presupposes the condition in which Hyundai pays for the cost for the tour. Nothing has changed.``

Both government and Hyundai have emphasized the `reduction in tour fee`, `designation of a special tourist zone`, and `land route to Mt. Kumgang` for the nominalization of Mt. Kumgang tour project. North Korea has maintained its position that a land route to Mt. Kumgang would be allowed if Mt. Kumgang tour project continues.

When Song Ho-Kyung, North Korean delegation of condolence for the former Hyundai president Chung Joo-Young, visited Seoul, Song and Hyundai officials agreed on land route tourism and the designation of a special tourist zone. However, they did not proceed to make concrete plans on the agreement.

Hyundai decided to give $ 12 million to North Korea for the cost of the tour. Hyundai paid $ 2 million last February, but has yet to make full payment.

In his visit to the Grand National Party on 21st, Yim Dong-Won, Minister of Unification, implied that the inter-Korea Mt. Kumgang tour should be maintained by saying that, ``As long as profitability is guaranteed, interested South Korean firms, besides Hyundai Asan, will come to form a consortium to carry ahead with the project.``

Kim Young-Sik spear@donga.com