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Mount Geumgang Tour Stays Idle for 4th Month

Posted November. 11, 2008 09:21,   


Nearly four months have passed since the suspension of tours to North Korea’s Mount Geumgang tour in the wake of the shooting death of a South Korean tourist there, putting a strain on tour operator Hyundai Asan Corp.

The estimated number of tourists to the mountain this year was 430,000, but Hyundai Asan has cut it to 200,000 after the tour was halted in July.

Accordingly, sales of Hyundai Asan are likely to fall to 200 billion won (150 million U.S. dollars) this year from 300 billion won (315 million dollars) last year. Despite the company’s efforts to hedge risks from changes in inter-Korean economic ties, many experts say it is still reeling from the tour suspension.

The stoppage has also dealt a heavy blow to the company’s event slated for Nov. 18 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the tour.

Hyundai Asan said yesterday that it will cancel most celebratory events and instead hold a simple news conference hosted by CEO Cho Kun-shik.

A company executive, however, said, “We believe the Mount Geumgang tour will be resumed next year.”

About 100 North Korean employees reportedly remain in the Mount Geumgang tourism district such as staff at duty-free shops and restaurants, indicating that North Korean authorities have not given up the tour, according to Hyundai Asan and South Korean government sources.

The company said it remains positive over the tour’s resumption in that Seoul has shown a flexible attitude in dealing with the issue.