Chinese company offering Kumgang Tours

According to Yonhap:

Chinese travel agencies are selling tour programs to North Korea’s Mount Kumgang amid Pyongyang’s announcement that it will find a new partner in retaliation for Seoul’s reluctance to resume cross-border tours, tourism sources said Sunday.

Two Chinese agencies in the city of Tongcheng and the southern province of Guangdong are taking reservations for tour programs that include the scenic mountain and other sights, including Pyongyang, the ancient city of Kaesong and the border with South Korea.

However, it was unclear if the programs are related to the North Korea’s decision last week to dump South Korea’s Hyundai Asan for an unidentified new partner for the mountain tours. Sources in Beijing said that the link appears to be weak, as the Chinese programs had been under preparation before Pyongyang’s announcement last week.

North Korea is angry over South Korea’s reluctance to resume tours to the mountain, which had been a key source of foreign currency for the impoverished nation since 1998. They were suspended in 2008 following the shooting death of a South Korean tourist near the resort.

South Korea demands the North agree to a joint on-site investigation into the death and safety measures for tourists.

Some South Korean media reported last week that the North formed a partnership with a Chinese tour organizer to run tours to the mountain, but Seoul’s Unification Ministry said the reported partnership has not been confirmed.

North Korea’s already serious economic troubles have deepened in the wake of U.N. sanctions for its nuclear test last year, while the regime’s failed currency reform has fueled inflation, food shortages and even rare social unrest.

Meanwhile, about 400 Chinese people are scheduled to embark on a tour of key sights in North Korea. In February, Beijing formally granted permission to its citizens to go deep into the communist neighbor, lifting its previous policy of limiting tourism to the border area.

Read the full story here:
Chinese agencies sell tour programs to N. Korea’s Mount Kumgang
Yonhap
4/11/2010

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