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Hyundai Asan to Resume Tours to N. Korea

Posted August. 18, 2009 06:31,   


Hyundai Asan Corp., the South Korean operator of tours to North Korea, has agreed with the North to resume the suspended tours.

Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun returned to Seoul yesterday through the Customs, Immigration & Quarantine Office at Dorasan Station in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, near the Demilitarized Zone. She came back after an eight-day trip to the North.

In a statement made at the office, she said she spoke to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il Sunday for four hours from noon over lunch at Mount Myohyang. She said Kim ordered the North’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee to review pending issues, including the resumption of tours to Mount Kumgang.

Hyun also ruled out a recurrence of the shooting death of a South Korean tourist at Mount Kumgang last year. The killing caused the immediate suspension of the tours to the scenic mountain in the North.

Kim also said he wants government-to-government dialogue on the release of four South Korean fishermen detained in the North.

Hyundai and the North Korean committee agreed on five inter-Korean projects: family reunions at Mount Kumgang over the Chuseok (Thanksgiving) holidays in October; the resumption of tours to Mount Kumgang and the North Korean border city of Kaesong; new tours to Biro Peak on Mount Kumgang and to Mount Baekdu; normalization of border crossings and stays by South Korean workers in the North; and resumption of operations at the Kaesong industrial complex.

North Korean state-run media also released a joint news statement between Hyundai and Pyongyang.

On the agreement, Hyun said the North proposed or requested nothing special and cited no secret deals on additional humanitarian aid to Pyongyang. She also denied prior consultation with Seoul before reaching the accord.

Though she said the agreement was a private-level deal, she called her trip to the North successful.

In Seoul, Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung told a news briefing in the afternoon, “To implement the agreement, specific deals are needed through inter-Korean talks. We will do our best to reach to an agreement with the North as soon as possible.”

nex@donga.com kyle@donga.com