Hyundai considers longer Geumgang tour

Korea Herald
Kim Yoon-mi

Hyundai Asan, the South Korean operator of travel to Mount Geumgang in North Korea, is considering expanding its new program that would allow South Koreans to tour the inner side of the mountain, its CEO Yoon Man-joon said yesterday.

Hyundai Asan on Sunday and Monday ran two pilot tours to inner Mount Geumgang, which has been closed by North Korea despite the South Korean company’s eight-year-long request to open it to South Korean visitors.

The new tour course will be open to the general public from June 1.

“For now, the new course is open three times a week, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. But depending on the tourists’ response, we could increase the visiting days. And this has already been agreed to with North Korean officials,” Yoon said during a press meeting at Pyohun Temple at inner Mount Geumgang on Monday.

Hyundai Asan’s tourism business met difficulties when North Korea conducted a nuclear test in October last year. With tension heightened on the Korean Peninsula, the number of tourists visiting Mount Geumgang plummeted, ruining Hyundai Asan’s target of securing 400,000 visitors a year. The number reached only 240,000 last year.

“We set the target at 400,000 again this year. About 15 to 20 percent of the tourists are expected to visit inner Geumgang this year. I hope by launching the inner Mount Geumgang tour, it give us a second leap toward successful Mount Geumgang tour business,” Yoon said.

The new tour includes a bus ride through North Korean villages for an hour and a half.

During the bus ride, North Korea people’s livelihoods, commercial buildings and schools will be visible to South Korean tourists.

“It must have been a big decision for North Korea to open up their ‘inner bedroom’ because you would do so to only those who are really close to you,” he said.

Regarding new marketing strategy for the existing tour to the outer side of Mount Geumgang, Yoon said the company will revamp tour programs to attract younger visitors.

Also, Hyundai Asan will add two tour sites called Munpil Peak and Beobgi Rock to the outer Mount Geumgang tour course as early as in June, he said.

The inner Mount Geumgang tour, once opened in June, will be operated from April to November with a price tag of 420,000 won ($450) for a three-day tour per person. The outer Geumgang tour currently costs 390,000 won per person.

“Just as inner and outer parts of Mount Geumgang meet to become one, I hope one day the two Koreas can become one,” said Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun, who also participated in the pilot tour on Monday.


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