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‘Inter-Korean Talks Crucial for Resuming Tour’

Posted November. 18, 2008 03:10,   


The president of Hyundai Asan Corp. said yesterday that tours to North Korea’s Mount Geumgang resort are expected to resume soon. The company is the South Korean operator of inter-Korean tourism projects.

Cho Kun-shik held a news conference marking the 10th anniversary of the company`s Mount Geumgang tour, saying “Considering the North’s attitude and situation, the North’s confidence in Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun certainly remains strong and Pyongyang wants the Mount Geumgang tour to be resumed.”

“Consensus should be made in a broader frame if the (South Korean) government wants to resolve this issue. If inter-Korean dialogue is resumed, we believe the resumption of the Mount Geumgang tour, along with progress in economic cooperation through the Gaesong Industrial Complex, will gain momentum.”

The North has declared that it will "strictly restrict and cut off" all overland passage through the inter-Korean Military Demarcation Line from Dec. 1.

Cho said Pyongyang is likely to make a decision on suspending the industrial complex at the end of the month after waiting for Seoul’s response.

On Hyundai Asan’s financial troubles, Cho said, “The suspension of the Mount Geumgang tour cost us 80 billion won (57 million U.S. dollars), but it didn’t significantly affect our financial status since we received a government-initiated construction order worth 73 billion won (51.8 million dollars).

“In addition, we are trying to save expenses as much as possible through cutting pay 20 percent, returning bonus money, and allowing employees to work at home using computers.”

To mark the tour’s 10th anniversary, about 250 Hyundai Asan staff plan to visit the graves of Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung and his son and former group chairman Chung Mong-hun, urge the tour’s resumption, and reaffirm their determination to overcome their crisis.

“We expressed hope for holding an event marking the 10th anniversary in the North, but North Korean authorities expressed its unwillingness to do so at this time,” a company source said.