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North Korea: “We Will Lead Gaesong Tour Project”

Posted August. 04, 2005 03:13,   


Prior to exhibition Gaesong tours that will commence as early as August 19, it was reported on August 3 that North Korea has said that it wants to lead Gaesong tourism.

An official of the government said, “Unlike the Mt. Geumgang tour when North Korea offered Hyundai the rights to use land and promote tourism for a period of 30 years for $942 million (approximately 942 billion won), the North says that it will take a leading role in Gaesong tourism.”

It seems that North Korea’s strategy of charging a higher tourism fee per person in the face of the situation in which it is hard to receive a huge sum of money in land rent from Hyundai Asan is behind North Korea’s emphasis on this “leading role.”

An expert noted that the North seems to have learned about capitalism after watching the Mt. Geumgang tour business.

In fact, Hyundai Asan considers 199,000 won per person adequate for a one-day Gaesong city tour, but North Korea is reportedly claiming that the fee should be around 300,000 won. For this reason, an agreement over the Gaesong tour is currently in a stalemate.

On August 2 during negotiations with North Korea, Hyundai Asan suggested North Korea conduct an exhibition tour of 300 to 500 people three times (August 19, 26, and September 2). Hyundai Asan has already finished its field work of Gaesong city’s attractions, including Bakyon Falls, Manwoldae, and Sonjuk Bridge on July 25.

Meanwhile, the Korea National Tourism Organization (KNTO) announced its plan on August 3 that it will pour in a total of 480 billion won to create a “Peace Tourism Complex” in Gaesong Industrial Complex and Gaesong City in three stages, starting next year and finishing in 2015.

According to the plan, the KNTO’s first commitment is to construct a “Peace Tourism Center” equipped with a hotel, tourism information center, and museum. The second commitment is to renovate the existing facilities, including roads, and water supply and drainage facilities. The third stage will establish a theme park to promote connecting the Gaesong tour to Pyongyang or Mt. Baekdu.

Seung-Ha Cho taewon_ha@donga.com summer@donga.com