Kim Yun-kyu, who stepped down as vice president of Hyundai Asan, South Korea’s operator of inter-Korean business and tourism, due to illegal use of corporate funds in October 2005, is resuming work with North Korea.
Kim set up his own company for North Korean business last year, dubbed Acheon Global Corp., which imported 531 kilograms of caviar from North Korea via the East Coast train on June 21, and entered the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, according to the Unification Ministry.
The importing of the caviar is Acheon’s first business transaction with North Korea, which was finalized by Kim’s aide Yuk Jae-hee, vice president of Acheon and former executive of Hyundai, during Yuk’s visit to Mt. Geumgang in North Korea June 18 to 20.
Kim will visit Mt. Geumgang Thursday, the first time since his resignation, to discuss additional imports with North Korean government officials. His North Korean counterpart is a business association in charge of fisheries.
Kim is reportedly seeking to bring North Korean sand to the South. Accordingly, he visited Gaeseong June 19, and Yuk plans to visit Gaeseong soon for further discussion on sand importing.
However, the two CEOs of Acheon are not likely to meet senior North Korean government officials, though they previously have met with and will, again, meet with working-level officials on inter-Korean affairs, in Gaeseong and Mt. Geumgang.
“Kim got approval from North Korea to visit the country for trade of agricultural and fishery projects, and the discussion has been conducted according to the purpose of his visit to North Korea,” a South Korean government official said on condition of anonymity.
Kim already discussed imports of North Korean fisheries and sand to the South and the establishment of an office in Gaeseong, with Choi Seung-chul, vice chairman of Asia Pacific Peace Committee of North Korea.
In line with Kim’s plan, Acheon signed a contract with the Korea Land Corp. to rent 1,400 square meters of land in the Gaeseong complex.
A building is to be set up there to accommodate restaurants, coffeehouses and other facilities for workers in Gaeseong, but it is not yet decided what kind of facilities will be built by Acheon. A permanent office of Acheon also is likely to be set up in Gaeseong.
Some observers say Kim’s resumed activity may lead to competition with Hyundai Asan regarding inter-Korean business, but the dominant opinion is that the chance is slim for the time being.
Kim led the inter-Korean business with Mt. Geumgang tourism and Gaeseong complex under the confidence of late Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung and his late son Mong-hun, former president of Hyundai Asan. Now Hyun Jung-eun, widow of Chung Mong-hun, leads Hyundai Asan.