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Can Hyundai Chief Recreate `Clinton Effect` in NK?

Posted August. 11, 2009 08:25,   


Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun yesterday left for North Korea to visit Pyongyang via Kaesong.

Along with her daughter Chung Ji-ih, a director at Hyundai U&I, and Hyundai Asan Corp.’s contract manager, Hyun left for the North after passing through the Dorasan Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Office in Paju, Gyeonggi Province. Her trip is expected to help the two Koreas improve their strained relations.

On the detained Hyundai Asan worker in the North, Hyun said, “I’ll try to persuade North Korea to release him.”

On the resumption of the Mount Kumgang tour, she said, “I cannot answer at this time.”

Hyundai Asan President Cho Kun-shik, who returned to Seoul yesterday from Kaesong, said, “Ms. Hyun arrived at Kaesong at 2:10 p.m. and was welcomed by Ri Jong Hyok, the vice chairman of the North’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee. Around 2:25 p.m., she left for Pyongyang.”

Hyun is scheduled to stay in Pyongyang until Wednesday. She is highly likely to hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, so she is expected to obtain the detained worker’s release and get the two Koreas to resume talks.

Experts say Hyun could bring the worker home tomorrow depending on the results of the negotiations. The worker was arrested March 30 on charges of criticizing North Korea’s communist regime and trying to encourage a North Korean worker to flee the country.

Hyun is on her seventh visit to Pyongyang, with her last coming 18 months ago when the New York Philharmonic held a concert in the North Korean capital.

She has also held talks with the North Korean leader three times, first in July 2005 to discuss Hyundai’s business in the North. Her second meeting came in October 2007 while accompanying South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun for the second inter-Korean summit. She last spoke to Kim in October 2007 on a proposed tour to Mount Baekdu.

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