Asan plans flights to near Kumgang

From Joong Ang Daily:
Seo Ji-eun

Hyundai Asan Corp., a Hyundai Group affiliate with the exclusive right to the North Korean tourism business, plans to take advantage of air routes to ratchet up its tourism operation at Mount Kumgang.

The company signed a memorandum of understanding with Jeju Air Co. yesterday to develop tour packages to Mount Kumgang using an air route between two South Korean cities ― Gimpo in Gyeonggi province and Yangyang in Gangwon province, near the border with North Korea. Buses will ferry travelers to Mount Kumgang from Yangyan.

Flying between the two cities will shorten the travel period by almost three hours, from the six hours needed to reach Mount Kumgang by road.

The flights will run twice daily and may increase to three times a day within this year, said Yoon Man-joon, chief executive officer of Hyundai Asan, in a meeting with reporters.

The chief executive forecast that easier access to the North Korean tourist attraction will boost the number of tourists.

“Mount Kumgang travelers using the Yangyang Airport will be given discounts on air fees and travel package expenses,” he added.

He also revealed that Hyundai Asan and North Korea are in discussions to allow tourists to fly directly from Gimpo to Wonsan, a North Korean port city on the East Coast, about 110 kilometers from Mount Kumgang. That route would reduce the travel time to North Korea even further.

“We’ve had a large number of potential customers who gave up on the Kumgang tour because of the long land trip,” Mr. Yoon said.

He stressed that having tourists be able to take airplanes to North Korea has been a long-held dream of the company. He added that the realization of that dream would help the Mount Kumgang tourism business firmly establish itself as a cash cow for Hyundai Asan.


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