Biz leaders glad to have seen NK up close

By Song Su-hyun
  • Published : Sept 20, 2018 - 20:47
  • Updated : Sept 21, 2018 - 11:33

The business leaders who accompanied South Korean President Moon Jae-in to North Korea this week returned to Seoul full of emotion, saying the trip had been worthwhile for the chance to see the North with their own eyes, but at the same time maintaining that it was premature to discuss doing business there.

“It can be said that we went (to the North) to hear what they had to say. It was significant to have been able to witness North Korea with our own eyes. We tried to take in as much as possible,” said Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Park Yong-maan upon arriving in Seoul on Thursday evening.
Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong walks past reporters upon arriving at a parking lot outside Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul on Thursday, after flying back from Pyongyang with the other delegates who accompanied President Moon Jae-in. (Yonhap)

The business delegation to the historic summit between Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un included Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun, CJ Group Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik and SoCar CEO Lee Jae-woong.

During the three-day summit, the leaders of the two Koreas reaffirmed their commitment to denuclearization and agreed to reopen the joint industrial park in Kaesong and resume tours to Kumgangsan as soon as appropriate conditions can be put in place. They also agreed to start work within the year to reconnect cross-border roads and railways, and to discuss the establishment of special economic zones on the east and west coasts.

The business delegation accompanied Moon throughout his itinerary, which included a hike to Paektusan on Thursday, and also met with North Korean Deputy Prime Minister for Economy Ri Ryong-nam on Tuesday.

“(We’ve) seen a lot, and tried to capture all things that are new to us. Once the gate opens to (be able to start projects) … based on what we’ve seen … we will continue to think hard about it. We are not yet at the stage (where we can) discuss anything,” said SK’s Chey upon returning.

Samsung’s chief, Lee, remained more reserved, responding to reporters’ questions only by saying he would leave the comments to the others.

Reports say the business leaders will soon share their North Korea experiences with their executives and begin internal discussions.

By Song Su-hyun (