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Freeze on S. Korean Assets Begins at NK Resort

Posted April. 28, 2010 15:03,   


North Korea froze Tuesday five assets owned by South Korean companies within the Mount Kumgang tourist zone.

The freeze was conducted with 41 employees of Hyundai Asan Corp., the South Korean operator of the tour, and its subcontractors attending.

The North also put sheets saying “forfeited” on five assets owned by the South Korean government and Korea Tourism Organization, replacing sheets saying “frozen.”

Pyongyang announced that all properties owned by South Korean investors except for Hyundai Asan would be frozen from Tuesday to Wednesday and those owned by Hyundai Asan would be frozen Thursday. It also said it will carry out additional measures Friday if necessary.

The South Korean Unification Ministry and Hyundai Asan said around 20 North Korean officials including Kim Kwang Yun, head of the Landmark General Development Bureau, carried out the freeze. They met South Koreans, read the statement announced last Friday, and explained the process of freezing South Korean properties at Mount Kumgang Hotel around 11 a.m.

The North posted signs saying “frozen” on the entrance of South Korean properties to block access to them by South Koreans. The process was also attended by around 10 North Korean soldiers.

South Korean companies are expected to be ordered to withdraw personnel before Friday, when the process of freezing properties they own is scheduled to be completed. Hyundai Asan is paying keen attention to how many staff it must withdraw from the North.

The possibility of resuming inter-Korean tours will depend on if Pyongyang asks the company to withdraw all 70 of its permanent employees or allow it to leave staff in the North.

kyle@donga.com sukim@donga.com