FORT LEE, N.J. -- Tourists soon will be visiting North Korea if a
joint development between Hyundai Business Group founder Chung
Ju-yung and the insular communist government comes to fruition.
After returning from an eight-day visit to North Korea, Chung
announced the deal to develop North Korea's Mount Kumgang area into
a tourist resort, accessible by ferry from the South Korean port
city of Sokchu, located in the northeast corner of the country. The
service could begin Sept. 25, according to the Korea National
Tourism Organization, based here.
The deal is contingent on the South Korean government's securing
official guarantees from North Korea for the safe passage of
international tourists. "The question is, will North Korea
guarantee the safety of travelers?" said David Kim, a spokesperson
for the KNTO, "but that is difficult given the circumstances."
The development, which would team Hyundai Business Group with
the North Korean government, is planned to consist of hotels,
department stores, a golf course and other leisure facilities and,
if approved, could draw close to 1,000 travelers each day.
Although the destination would predominantly draw Korean
tourists, Kim said it was his understanding that U.S. tourists also
will be permitted to go.