Hyundai Group chief, N. Korean officials discuss business projects: report

Yonhap
11/1/2007

The chief of South Korea’s Hyundai Group met with North Korean officials in charge of inter-Korean cooperation on Thursday to discuss the group’s business projects in the North, the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

The KCNA said Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun held talks with North Korean officials, including officials from the North’s National Economic Cooperation Federation.

The two sides took notes on an industrial park in the North Korean city of Kaesong and the building of a tourist resort near Mount Paekdu, according to the KCNA. Prior to the talks, Hyun’s delegation also toured Mount Paekdu, the North’s highest mountain on the border with China, the KCNA said.

The KCNA, however, stopped short of reporting the outcome of the talks.

At Thursday’s talks, Hyun is believed to have discussed the Mount Paekdu tourism project and the second-stage development of the Kaesong industrial complex with the North.

The South Korean company said earlier that Hyun and Yoon Man-joon, head of Hyundai Asan, a Hyundai subsidiary that runs Hyundai’s business in North Korea, visited Pyongyang on Tuesday via Beijing to discuss inter-Korean projects with North Korean officials. Hyun and Yoon are to return home Saturday, according to Hyundai officials.

Hyun’s visit this week marked her second trip to North Korea in a month, as she accompanied South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on his historic inter-Korean summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il from Oct. 2-4.

At the summit, Roh and Kim agreed their two countries would work together on a wide range of economic projects, even though the two states are still technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

After the summit, Hyun said she expects tours to Mount Paekdu to start as early as next April. At the summit, the two leaders agreed to establish direct flights from Seoul to Mount Paekdu.

Hyundai maintains close business ties to North Korea. One of its major cross-border projects is tours of scenic Mount Geumgang on the North’s east coast. More than 1 million South Koreans have visited it since 1998.

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 Hyundai founder’s fifth son, committed suicide by jumping from a window of his high-rise office in Seoul, apparently under pressure from a lobbying scandal involving a North Korean project.

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