Published : 2013-10-20 19:37
Updated : 2013-10-20 19:37
The top policymaker on inter-Korean affairs will meet with South Korean investors in the long-suspended joint inter-Korean tourism project at North Korea’s Mount Geumgangsan this week in order to discuss ways to make up for their financial losses, the unification ministry said Friday.
The shooting death of a South Korean female tourist by a North Korean solider led to the suspension of the joint tour program at the scenic mountain in 2008, resulting in substantial financial losses by South Korean investors.
Amid continued restraints in inter-Korean relations, the joint project has remained closed despite the North’s repeated calls to resume the cash-cow business.
In order to find ways to help the beleaguered investors, Unification Ministry Ryoo Kihl-jae will hold a meeting with the investors Wednesday, a ministry official said. The forthcoming gathering is the first face-to-face contact between the investors and the head of the ministry since the suspension.
“This meeting was arranged to look into the current state of the Geumgangsan tour investors and collect their opinions in order to seek ways of supporting them as six years of suspension have inflicted grave difficulties on them,” the ministry official said.
Investors in the Geumgangsan tour program have long been demanding the government to revive the tour business with the North, but Seoul has refused Pyongyang’s repeated calls to reopen the program, citing a lack of measures by the North to guarantee the safety of South Korean travelers.
Both countries previously agreed to hold talks in October to discuss the fate of the Geumgangsan project, but the North canceled the dialogue amid icy relations.
The Gaeseong industrial complex, another major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation, was put back into operation in September after more than five months of work stoppage caused by inter-Korean tension.
The association of Geumgangsan tour investors said in August that the suspension has so far cost as much as 518 billion won ($487.9 million) in sales.