Mount Kumgang tour sales down 20 percent in 2006

Joong Ang Daily

Eight years have passed since the first tourist from South Korea entered North Korea to explore Mount Kumgang, one of North Korea’s most scenic mountains, but the picture at Hyundai Asan, operator of the tour program, is not so picturesque.

Demand for the tour has plummeted after North Korea’s nuclear weapon test last month.

Only 22,000 tourists visited Mount Kumgang in October, a popular fall season. Originally, 40,000 made reservations but almost half canceled because of the nuclear test.

For the first 10 months of 2006, a total of 226,000 tourists have visited the North Korean mountain, 20 percent less than the previous year and well below the company’s target of 350,000 for this year.

“Next year the tour area will be expanded to inner-Kumgang, and a golf course will be ready in May. We expect to attract more tourists,” said an official from Hyundai Asan.

Meanwhile, two conservative citizen groups, Right Korea and the Citizens’ Coalition to Stop Nuclear Development of North Korea, rallied Thursday. They want the tours stopped, saying it is a source of foreign currency for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il.


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