Cable Cars to Run on Mt. Geumgang

Korea Times
Kim Yon-se

Hyundai Group is gearing up to activate its inter-Korean businesses as negative factors, such as North Korea’s nuclear test last October, have started to settle down.

As early as this year, Hyundai Asan, the group’s tourism unit, plans to operate cable cars on Mount Kumgang to attract more South Korean tourists. The company has been in talks with North Korea to run cable cars on part of the mountain.

“It usually takes about one year or more to complete the construction of a cable car system. We launched the construction last year,” a company official said, suggesting that tourists could enjoy the service in 2007 or early 2008.

He said cable cars will run between the mountain’s top and the Sejonbong ridge, one of Mount Kumgang’s peaks. As the peak is located near the East Sea, tourists will enjoy scenic views of the mountain and sea simultaneously.

Hyundai Asan has set the goal of attracting 400,000 tourists, including South Koreans and foreigners, to Mount Kumgang this year, compared with 234,446 last year.

Its rosy outlook comes largely from the six-party agreement to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear programs in February. Hyundai Asan officials say the event will help normalize inter-Korean businesses.

“The landmark accord will enable our inter-Korean projects, including Mount Kumgang tours and the Kaesong Industrial Complex, to get revitalized,” the official said.

Along with the scheduled opening of tours to inner Mount Kumgang from May 27, Hyundai Asan has decided to hire more than 10 fresh employees.

As the number of tourists fell to fewer than 250,000 in 2006 from 301,822 in 2005 and 272,820 in 2004, the company had to conduct layoffs and cut monthly payments to some employees amid deteriorating profitability last year.

Now the company plans to restore the salary level and pay delayed bonuses in a bid to encourage workers.

The tour project accounts for about 70 percent of Hyundai Asan’s total sales. It has set a sales target of 300 billion won for 2007.

Hyundai is also poised to push ahead with a plan to begin tours to Kaesong, a North Korean historical city near the border that is home to the South Korean-invested industrial complex. It plans to hold working-level meetings with the North in order to hasten the start of the tours.


Comments are closed.