Posted July. 18, 2005 03:09,
Touring North Koreas Mt. Baekdu and Gaesong city will be possible as early as next month.
If successful, the tours will mark a turning point in the expansion of sightseeing in North Korea. Its been six years and eight months since the Mt. Geumgang tour began in November 1998.
Hyun Jeong-eun, chairperson of the Hyundai Group, who visited North Korea for six days, held a press conference at the South Korean Customs, Immigrations and Quarantine Office (CIQ) in Goseong County, Gangwon Province, and said, I met with Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader on July 16. He permitted tours of Mt. Baekdu and Gaesong City.
The meeting was held in Wonsan, which is a gateway city to Mt. Geumgang.
Hyun added that they plan to conduct the exhibition tour to Gaesong from August 15 and to Mt. Baekdu from late August. The Gaesong tour will include visiting historic places such as Seonjuk Bridge where Chung Mong-ju, a loyal retainer of the Goryeo Dynasty, was killed, and Bakyeon Falls.
He also said that North Korean leader Kim accepted examining whether touring Naegeumgang (Inner Geumgang), which isnt open to tours at the moment, would be possible.
Hyundai Asan had suggested expanding the area of Geumgang mountain tour, which is limited to manmulsang and haegeumgang, to the Naegeumgang area including Jangan temple, but the North refused.
Kim Yun-kyu, vice chairman of Hyundai Asan who accompanied Hyun said there are two ways to Mt. Baekdu. One is through Pyongyang and the other is by airplane to an area around Mt. Baekdu. He raised the possibility of developing a tour course including Pyongyang City, saying they will review which way is better.
However, experts think it will take long time to start the tour because there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed at the working level, such as the tour cost per person to pay North Korea and the expenses to be covered by the South for repairing Samjiyeon airport around Mt. Baekdu.
The Korean government seems to be welcoming Hyundai Asans expansion of the tourism industry in North Korea.