Hyundai Asan to spend $3 billion for new N.K. tour project

Korea Herald
Kim Yoon Mi

Hyundai Asan, the South Korean operator of tour programs to North Korea, said yesterday it plans to spend $3 billion by 2025 to develop an area on the North’s east coast as a new tourist destination.

“We have submitted the final plan to the North in late June. The plan will be reviewed by the North by September,” Yoon Man-joon, Hyundai Asan’s chief executive officer, said at a press meeting in Seoul.

According to the company’s plan, Hyundai Asan will develop the area from Haegeumgang near Mount Geumgang to Wonsan, an eastern port city in the North.

As Hyundai’s relationship with North Korea has recently shown signs of recovery, Hyundai chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun, widow of the late Chung Mong-hun, will visit Pyongyang as early as late August, Yoon said.

“I’m not sure whether she will be able to meet Kim Jong-il but I’m sure she will visit Pyongyang.”

Hyun will meet North Korean senior officials to discuss new inter-Korean commerce and the tour business to Gaeseong, Yoon said.

Meanwhile, the CEO hinted at legal action against former Hyundai vice chairman Kim Yoon-kyu. Yoon pointed to the possibility of Kim using confidential corporate information acquired by Hyundai to further the latter’s own inter-Korean trade corporation.

Kim, who was a key player in Hyundai’s inter-Korean business promoted by the late Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung and his late son Mong-hun, was fired by the Hyundai Group in October 2005 for allegedly illegal use of corporate funds.

Recently, Kim has started his own business dealing with North Korea through his company, Acheon Global Corp., and announced last month that the company will trade agricultural and processed food products with the communist country.

“When I look into what businesses he is doing, I can say that he is doing exactly the same thing while he was working for Hyundai. Legal experts tell me that it could be a violation of confidential corporate information,” Yoon said.

Asked if he was willing to take legal action, Yoon did not directly reply but said he does not think Kim’s business is legitimate.

“I am closely watching over (what activities he is making). I hope he doesn’t do such business anymore,” Yoon said.

Hyundai to Spend $3 Bil.on NK Tourism Project
Korea Times


A South Korean company operating businesses in North Korea said Thursday it plans to spend $3 billion by 2025 to develop an area on the North’s east coast as a new tourist destination.

Yoon Man-joon, chief executive officer of Hyundai Asan, the North Korean business arm of Hyundai Group, said the company submitted the proposal to the North’s authorities in June and that North Korea is expected to make a final decision as early as next month.

The new project calls for Hyundai Asan to develop the costal area from the North’s eastern port city of Wonsan to Haegeumgang near Mt. Geumgang, where the South Korean company built a mountain resort in 1998.

If North Korea approves the proposal, it would be Hyundai Asan’s third major economic project in the North, following the mountain resort and an industrial complex in the city of Kaesong near the inter-Korean border.

Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun, who met North Korean leader Kim Jong-il two years ago, is preparing to visit the North as early as late this month to discuss the group’s North Korean businesses, including the new project, Yoon said.

“Hyun’s visit to Pyongyang is already confirmed,” Yoon told reporters.

It was uncertain whether Hyun will be allowed to meet the North Korean leader during the planned visit, Yoon said.

North Korea’s environmental experts are reviewing the new development proposal by Hyundai Asan, the executive said.

Mount Geumgang, located just north of the border between the two Koreas near the east coast, has attracted more than 1.5 million visitors since 1998, Yoon said.

In the first seven months of this year, some 150,000, mostly South Korean guests, visited the scenic mountain.

Yoon said the company will make efforts to meet this year’s target of 400,000 visitors as the North recently opened an inner side of the mountain.

The North’s approval to open a wider part of Mount Geumgang and its surrounding area to tourists “indicated a normalization in relations between Hyundai and North Korea,” Yoon said.

Hyundai’s business with North Korea was started by its late founder, Chung Ju-yung, in the early 1990s.

Hyun took the helm of Hyundai in 2003 after her husband, Chung Mong-hun, the late founder’s son, committed suicide by jumping from the window of his high-rise office in Seoul, apparently under pressure from a lobbying scandal involving the North Korean mountain project.


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