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Hyundai Offered a Total of 500 Million Dollars to the North

Hyundai Offered a Total of 500 Million Dollars to the North

Posted February. 16, 2003 22:37,   


Chung Mong-hun, chairman of Hyundai Group, is reported to have suggested that Hyundai offered a total of 500 million dollars to the North in return for an exclusive right to business opportunities in North Korea on Feb. 16.

Mr. Chung said like that to reporters around 4: 50 p.m. the same day, going through the Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine office (CIQ), south of the DMZ, after the pilot tour to Mt. Geumgang resort by using the border-crossing route.

At 6:00 p.m. that day, he held a news conference in Geumgangsan Condo located in Goseong, Gangwon Province, in which he made an announcement on the context in which he offered 500 million dollars to the North and how he did it.

Earlier on Feb. 14, Im Dong-won, presidential special advisor, who also attended President Kim Dae-jung’s press conference to make an apology for his government’s involvement in Hyundai’s secret payment to the North, said, "I got a briefing that Hyundai had promised to pay 500 million dollars in exchange for an exclusive right to North Korea business."

Meanwhile, Kim Yun-kyu, chairman of Hyundai Asan, said on Feb. 14, "The 500 million dollars delivered to Pyongyang was a reward for Hyundai’s securing 7 business projects in the North. And we got a confirmation for the business right."

Meeting with reporters at Haegeumgang Hotel at Mr. Geumgang, Kim contended, "When we reached agreement on the business plan, the North said that even if they got money from other businesses, they would offer the projects to Hyundai. The 500 million dollars pales in comparison with the business right secured."

According to Mr. Kim, Japan made contacts with North Korea to grab business right at Mt. Geumgang earlier than Hyundai, but the company tried successfully to get the business right in a hurry at the order of the late Hyundai honorary chairman, Chung Ju-young. He argued that if Japan knew the details about the business plan between Pyongyang and Hyundai, it would not make investment in the North.

Asked if the transferred amount is 500 million dollars, he answered, "I should go back and calculate." Rather, he asked back, "How could Hyundai Asan have that much money?" suggesting that the fund raising was done at Hyundai Group level.

He denied the allegation that the secret transfer was in exchange for the first inter-Korean summit meeting in June 2000, saying that if the government and Hyundai bought the summit meeting with money, it could be a disgrace to North Korea. However, on the other hand, he added that the summit meeting might have been an opportunity to guarantee the business right to Hyundai.

Mr. Kim also said that he would bring a large delegation to the North next month for which the ceremony of the completion of a gymnasium in Pyongyang is scheduled. He is also pursuing a plan to hold play-offs of men and women’s professional basketball in this new stadium.

Kang-Woon Lee Dong-Ki Sung kwoon90@donga.com esprit@donga.com