Hyundai Asan to Expand Mt. Geumgang Tours

Korea Times
Ryu Jin

Tourists who want to visit the inner part of Mt. Geumgang in North Korea, better known as “Naegeumgang’’ in Korean, will be able to leave for the resort area on any day of the week, starting next month.

Hyundai Asan, the South Korean operator of the inter-Korean tourism project, said Tuesday that the Naegeumgang tour, which has so far been carried out three times a week, will be available everyday from July 1.

North Korea had previously agreed to accept only three groups of tourists every week. Each group, composed of no more than 150 visitors, crossed the border every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a two-night, three-day stay there.

But the two sides finally decided to increase the tours, as applicants have risen sharply in recent weeks since the new tour program was officially launched on June 1.

“We plan to bring 30 groups of visitors to the resort complex on our Naegeumgang tour next month,’’ a Hyundai Asan official said. “But tickets have already been booked almost fully.’’

Mt. Geumgang, which has long held both aesthetic and spiritual allure for Koreans, can be divided into three parts: Naegeumgang (inner, western part), Oegeumgang (outer, eastern part) and Haegeumgang (seashore part).

Since the first tour to Oegeumgang in 1998, an increasing number of visitors have made the trip to the resort area. Most were South Koreans with fewer than 8,000 visitors coming from 48 other countries.

North Korea allowed the inner part of the mountain, Naegeumgang, to be visited toward the end of this year, which military and political experts evaluate as a “bold step’’ when its strategic importance is taken into account.

Hyundai Asan said early this month that more than 1.5 million tourists have visited Mt. Geumgang in the past decade. The company anticipates the number of tourists that visit the mountain resort this year to exceed 400,000.

The Naegeumgang tour is operated from April to November for 420,000 won ($450) per person including a two-night stay in a hotel, which is just 30,000 won higher than that of the tour program to Oegeumgang and Haegeumgang.

On the first day, visitors check in at the hotel and enjoy a North Korean acrobatics show and dine on unique North Korean cuisine. On the second day, tourists explore the beauty of Naegeumgang, followed by a brief trip to Oegeumgang on the last day.


Comments are closed.