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When Will Hyundai Chief’s Visit to NK End?

Posted August. 16, 2009 07:09,   


Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun yesterday extended her visit to North Korea for the third time, with speculation rising over whether she will speak to the North’s leader Kim Jong Il.

The group said Hyun and the North`s intelligence chief Kim Yang Kon discussed Thursday "issues of mutual interest" and informed the group she would stay there another day.

Hyundai sources said they expect her to “bring a bundle of presents” after talking to the North Korean leader. One source said her entourage sent a message that everything is going smoothly.

Hyundai Asan President Cho Kun-shik, who entered Kaesong in the North yesterday, is scheduled to return home with the chairwoman today.

Skepticism is growing over the results of Hyun`s visit in Seoul, however, with one government official saying, “I`m starting to doubt that Chairwoman Hyun will meet Kim Jong Il given the five-day delay.”

Observers say that if Kim Yang Kon confirmed different opinions after his meeting with Hyun, Kim Jong Il could have rejected holding talks with her.

The newspaper of the North Korean Cabinet, Minju Choson, also blasted Seoul’s policy toward Pyongyang since the inauguration of the Lee Myung-bak administration, saying the South is to blame for inter-Korean relations being at their lowest level.

Fears are also rising that the release of four South Korean fishermen being detained in the North could be delayed.

Another Seoul official said, “North Korea is unlikely to release the fishermen on Liberation Day (Aug. 15) or over the weekend. The timing is not good because South Korea and the United States will begin the joint military exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian Monday.”

South Korean Unification Minister Hyun In-taek also visited a South Korean worker released Thursday after 136 days of detention in the North.

kyle@donga.com nex@donga.com