(UPDATED) South Korean tourist fatally shot at Kumgang

UPDATE 13-August 28:   Yoon Man-jun stepped down as CEO of Hyundai Asan over the July 11 killing of the 53-year-old South Korean woman by a North Korean soldier at the North’s Diamond Mountain resort, the company said in a statement. The company quoted Yoon as saying that he wanted to take “moral responsibility” for the death. (ETN news)

UPDATE 12-August 8: Despite bringing a halt to tourism in Kumgangsan, South Korea sent arrears to the DPRK.  From the Choson Ilbo:

Despite stalemate over the shooting death of a South Korean tourist at North Korea’s Mt. Kumgang, tour operator Hyundai Asan made its July payment for tours to North Korea.

Asan said Thursday it paid US$675,250 to North Korea to cover costs accrued by 10,380 South Korean tourists who visited the mountain resort on July 1-11, until the tours halted after a South Korean tourist was shot and killed by a North Korean soldier at Mt. Kumgang.

Update 11-August 8: DPRK to expel all remaining ROKs from Kumgnag starting August 10.   

UPDATE 10-Auguts 4: KCNA issues statement. 

UPATE 9-August 3: Though no date was given, North Korea intends to expell most remaining South Koreans from Kumgang (Yonhap):

North Korea’s official media said earlier in the day that Pyongyang will expel all “unnecessary” South Korean personnel from the Mount Geumgang resort, where a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier last month.

More than 260 South Korean workers are stationed at the scenic resort, according to Hyundai Asan, the South Korean tour organizer. 

UPDATE 8-July 26: North Korea succeeds in preventing shooting concerns from being mentioned in official summary of ASEAN meeting.

UPDATE 7- July 23: South Korean government prevents South Korean civic groups from visiting DPRK until the North’s government agrees to participate in shoting investigation. (Donga Ilbo) 

As of Tuesday, six organizations had been offered invitations to visit the DPRK (Donga Ilbo):

One hundred members of the Korean Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union applied for permits to visit North Korea during August. In addition, 120 South Gyeongsang Province officials including Governor Kim Tae-ho are reportedly planning to visit the regime.

Humanitarian organizations such as Good Neighbors International, Nanum International and the Korean Sharing Movement will reportedly send 40-150 delegates to the North in August (for the former two) and September. In addition, North Korean officials invited around 120 members of Peace Three Thousand, and the representatives of the two will meet in Gaesong on Saturday to discuss the invitation.

These organizations [would] stay two to four days in North Korea and [] attend joint meetings with the North Korean Teachers’ Union, visit North Korean industrial facilities, tour Mount Baekdu, and attend an Arirang performance – a play propagandizing the regime.

UPDATE 6- July 21: Suspension of the Kumgang Tours will cost the DPRK $20 million per year.  If South Korea suspends the Kaesong tours (to the city, not the industrial zone) it will cost the DPRK government $15 million. (Choson Ilbo)

Maybe these numbers are sinking in. According to the Donga Ilbo:

North Korean officials recently followed one after another in expressing their perplexity regarding the incident, and fell over themselves to invite a horde of South Korean civic groups in August. These recent moves by the North have led some to believe that the North Korean authorities have somehow changed its stance towards the South.

An American source who recently met with North Korean officials in China and a working-level official at a South Korean civic group also said, “North Korean authorities told us that the shooter was a ‘very young’ person.”

The source added, “North Korean authorities told us that the incident equally took them aback. They added that especially at a time when the South Korean authorities are anxious to give them 50,000 tons of corn, those who thought the incident was intentional simply do not know anything about their regime.”

Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyun also confirmed the Dong-A Ilbo’s report that North Korea invited a large group of South Korean visitors to Mount Baekdu and Pyongyang.

The Choson Ilbo remains skeptical

UPDATE 5 – July 17: The North’s story has changedDPRK rejects South’s inspectors. Seventy percent of officials of the United Front Department who were in charge of foreign affairs with South Korea were expelled from their positions early this year. It seemed to be an initiative step for taming the Lee administration and controlling the South’s policy (Daily NK).

UPDATE 4 – July 15: South Korea ups the ante by threatening to suspend tours of Kaesong unless the DPRK participates in the Kumgang shooting investigation (Bloomberg). 

NKeconWatch analysis: Suspending tours to Kumgang is relatively expensive for both North and South.  Hyundai and the South Korean government spent a lot of money developing the facilities, and by this time, the North Koreans who were earning from the project have grown accustomed to the cash flow.  The tours of Kaesong are different, however.  The South invested relatively little capital in the Kaesong tours, so suspending them idles few of their resources but hits the pocketbooks of the North Koreans who sponsor the program.  Could the Kaesong Industrial Zone be turned into a bargaining chip? 

UPDATE 3 – July 14: South Korea officially casts doubt on North Korea’s portrayal of events leading up to the shooting based on CCTV video and an eyewitness account. (Choson Ilbo) 

UPDATE 2: This story in the Korea Times (h/t ROK Drop) seems to indicate that there was a witness to the shooting and that there were no substantial barriers or warnings that vacationers could wander into a restricted military zone.   

UPDATE 1: The North Koreans expressed regret for the shooting, but says the responsibility lies entirely with Seoul.  They also refuse to cooperate with the South Korean government in an investigation of the incident citing that they have already sorted things out with Hyundai Asan. Although South Korea’s President Lee Myung-Bak ignored the situation in a parliamentary speech he gave shortly after the shooting, the Unification Ministry has now publicly stated that the shooting was “wrong by any measure, unimaginable, and should not have occurred at all.” 

ORIGINAL POST:Tourism numbers at the Kumgnag resort were up this year, despite high political tensions. 

From the AP:

A North Korean soldier fatally shot a South Korean tourist Friday at a mountain resort in the communist North, prompting the South to suspend the high-profile tour program just as South Korean’s new president sought to rekindle strained ties between the divided countries.

The news of the unprecedented shooting of a 53-year-old woman at Diamond Mountain resort emerged just hours after new President Lee Myung-bak delivered a nationwide address calling for restored contacts between the two Koreas, which have been on hold since he took office in February.

Kim said South Korea would suspend future Diamond Mountain tours until it completes an investigation. The other some 1,200 tourists already at the resort are to complete their tours as scheduled by as late as Sunday, said Hyundai Asan, the South Korean company that operates the resort.

Links to full stories below the fold:

South Korea May Halt Tours to N. Korea’s Gaeseong, Dong-a Says
Bloomberg
Sungwoo Park
7/15/2008 

South Korean Fatally Shot by North Korean Soldier
By JAE-SOON CHANG
Associated Press
7/11/2008

South Korea Says Tourist Shooting by North ‘Wrong, Unimaginable’
Voice of America
Kurt Achin
7/13/2008

North Blames South Over Tourist Killing
Korea Times
7/13/2008

Seoul Doubts N. Korea’s Announcement on Shooting
Choson Ilbo
7/14/2008

How N.Korea Can Be Persuaded to Cooperate
Choson Ilbo
7/21/2008

New Suspicions Arise Over Shooting Incident
Donga Ilbo
7/22/2008

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