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South Korea looking into North Korea tourism opportunities

Bernama  |  Published:  |  Modified:

South Korea's Culture Ministry said Thursday that it is looking into potential opportunities for South Korean tourism to North Korea amid a thaw on the divided peninsula, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

The move came following the historic summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump in Singapore.

The summit raised the possibility of cooperative bilateral relations after decades of hostility, setting the stage for the resumption of inter-Korean economic cooperation.

"We are reviewing various ways to see if there is anything to do in addition to tour programs to Kaesong, Mount Kumgang and Mount Baekdu," said the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The ministry has created a task force to prepare for the possible resumption of inter-Korean exchanges in sports, culture and tourism. 

Still, the ministry said it's difficult to provide a specific time frame because South Korea needs to carry out onsite inspections of tour facilities in the North and work out details with the North as well as South Korean companies.

Hyundai Asan, the inter-Korean business arm of Hyundai Group, operated a joint tour programme at Mount Kumgang, a scenic mountain resort on North Korea's east coast.

The tour programme - launched in 1998 - attracted more than 1.95 million visitors before South Korea suspended it in 2008 following the shooting death of a South Korean female tourist near the resort.

South Korea also halted a separate tour programme to North Korea's western border city of Kaesong in 2008, a year after Hyundai Asan began the tour to the former capital of Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392).

Kaesong is also home to a stalled inter-Korean industrial complex. South Korea shuttered the sprawling factory park in Kaesong in February 2016 to punish North Korea for its fourth nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch.

The Korea Tourism Organisation said it has launched a task force to prepare for possible tour programmes in the North by South Korean tourists. 

- Bernama

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