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North Korea Plays Double Game in Tourism Project

Posted September. 14, 2005 07:46,   


It was found on Tuesday that North Korea offered Lotte Tours the Gaesong tourism project, whose exclusive project rights belong to Hyundai-Asan.

With the increased tension between Hyundai and North Korea over the issue of Vice President Kim Yoon-kyu of Hyundai-Asan leaving his management role, North Korea made this offer without consulting Hyundai, the tourism project partner, which is likely to cause considerable rippling effects.

In a press conference at Lotte Tours headquarters in Jongno-gu, Seoul, director Lee Soon-nam of Lotte Tours said, “Vice Chairman Choi Seung Cheol of the Chosun Asia-Pacific Peace Committee of North Korea verbally conveyed the offer to Chairman Kim Ki-byung of Lotte Tours who visited Pyongyang to attend the 2005 Pyongyang Open Golf Tournament at the end of August.”

Lee said, “We are currently examining the profitability of the project. If we find it to be unprofitable, we will not proceed with it. We will eventually discuss the matter again with the North.”

Since 1991, Lotte Tours received many offers to conduct tourism projects in the North, but it turned them down since it considered the projects unprofitable.

However, the offer this time is noteworthy since it came right after Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun of Hyundai Group removed Vice Chairman Kim from the office after he was found to have committed fraud during the audit of Hyundai-Asan. Accordingly, some observe that North Korea may intend to make the project toward the North one driven by the competition between South Korean companies, not the monopolistic one of Hyundai.

Young-Hae Choi yhchoi65@donga.com myzodan@donga.com