Kumgang update from Lankov

Here are the highlights:

1.  In June 2005, Hyundai conformed its 1 millionth visitor to Kumgang.
2.  January 1999, soon after the launch of the project, Hyundai Asan leaders stated that by the end 2004 there would be an accumulated 4.9 million visits to the North.
3.  Managers predicted that in 2004 alone some 1.2 million tourists would visit the Kumgang Mountain Project. The actual number of the visits in 2004 was 273,000
4.  The project was first conceived in 1989, when Chung Ju-yung, the founder of the Hyundai Group, became the first South Korean industrialist to visit the North.
5.  Financially, the North Koreans have been doing very well. According to the initial agreement, the Hyundai Group would build all the infrastructure in the zone (presumably including the fences to keep the South Korean visitors under control), and pay $12 million every month as fee for the use of the area. Some additional income was earned by the North through the sale of grossly overpriced local products and souvenirs.
6.  Contrary to initial expectations, South Koreans were not too eager to spend their short vacations behind barbed wire.
7.  in the late 1990s a cheapest three night package cost about 700,000 won
8.  In April 2001 the Hyundai Merchandise Marine Company halved the number of trips available. It was also having trouble making payments to the North Korean partners, too.
9.  However, the government simply could not allow it to collapse: by that time the Kumgang Project had acquired a huge symbolic importance. It was salvaged by a massive government intervention, and stayed afloat largely because the Blue House (and also a large part of the public) needed a symbol of cooperation, at whatever cost to the taxpayers.


Comments are closed.