Kumgang tourism numbers not meeting expectations

Mount Kumgang tour goal to fall well short of 400,000
Joong Ang Daily

The number of South Korean tourists to a scenic North Korean mountain resort is expected to fall far short of the initial target of 400,000 for this year due to inter-Korean tensions, South Korean tour organizers said yesterday.

About 1.3 million South Koreans have visited Mount Kumgang since the communist North opened the area to outsiders in 1998 to earn badly needed hard currency.

The South Korean tour operator, Hyundai Asan Corp., had planned to attract 400,000 tourists to the area this year, but the number is expected to reach slightly more than half of the the target, company officials said.

The sharp drop in the number of tourists to the resort can be attributed to recurring tensions caused by the North’s multiple missile tests on July 5 and its first-ever nuclear weapons test on Oct. 9, they said.

“We had aimed for 400,000 visitors for the year, but the North Korean nuclear crisis caused a significant problem,” a Hyundai Asan official said, citing the North’s missile and nuclear tests.

According to Hyundai Asan, a total of 230,224 people, mostly South Koreans, visited the resort in the first 11 months of the year, and the number of visitors in December is not expected to be more than 10,000.

The North’s mountain resort is reachable from South Korea by bus within an hour.


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