중앙데일리

North to open inner Kumgang

General public will be able to visit the area starting in June

Apr 26,2007
Bodeokam, a hermitage established during the ancient Goguryeo kingdom in the inner part of Mount Kumgang, seemingly floats in air, propped up by a single copper pillar. Tourists will be allowed into the scenic North Korean area beginning in June. [YONHAP]
North Korea has agreed to allow tourists from South Korea into the inner part of Mount Kumgang starting in June, Hyundai Asan Co., the exclusive inter-Korean business operator, said yesterday.
Since launching the Mount Kumgang program in 1998, the tourism arm of Hyundai Group has sought approval from the North Korean authorities to let people enter “Nae-Kumgang,” or inner Mount Kumgang, but the North had so far declined, citing security reasons.
“North Korea has made a difficult decision in that the inner part of Mount Kumgang is a very sensitive area from a political and military perspective. The start of Nae-Kumgang tourism is symbolic of improving inter-Korean ties,” said Hyundai Asan in a written statement.

A Buddha image on a cliff called Myogilsang in inner Mount Kumgang stands 18.2 meters high. [YONHAP]
The scenic resort area of Mount Kumgang, far northeast of Seoul, has two parts: the western side facing the land is called Nae-Kumgang, and the eastern side facing the East Sea, Oe-Kumgang. While Oe-Kumgang boasts magnificent views and large waterfalls, Nae-Kumgang sports relatively “feminine and sophisticated” scenery, such as rock formations and cliffs, as well as major Buddhist temples that are at least 1,000 years old, tourism experts said.
Under the agreement with North Korea, Hyundai Asan said it will operate two pilot tours on May 27 and May 28, allowing 150 visitors each day to spend two nights and three days on the newly pioneered routes. The general public will be granted entrance on June 1.
Due to tensions created in the aftermath of the North’s missile and nuclear tests, Hyundai Asan saw only 240,000 tourists to Mount Kumgang last year, falling far short of its target of 400,000. The company said it is optimistic about surpassing the same goal this year.


By Seo Ji-eun Staff Writer [spring@joongang.co.kr]



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