[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Encourage North tourismAs North Korea has revealed its nuclear intentions to the world, the relationship between the United States and North Korea has become very grave. Still, there is a way for South Korea to unravel the complicated relationship between North Korea and America. The best way is to make great efforts to maintain and build on the tourism project in North Korea. The Mount Kumgang tourism project, started by Hyundai in November 1998, had a difficult start. Many people thought that the project was almost impossible and useless. Many thought that the communist country was shut too firmly. However, as the revenue gradually came in, the North’s leaders began to launch bigger and bigger projects with South Korea. As a result, the Kumgang project now is a thriving business between the South and North.
Actually, from my experience in visiting Kumgang on a school trip a couple of weeks ago. I was amazed by how well the area has been developed. The area is thoroughly furnished with various facilities. It has approximately a hundred sleeping units for tourists, each big enough for a family. There are two big restaurants right next to the accommodations provided for tourists. One restaurant even has a hot spa inside. It costs $12 for each person and is quite expensive but really worth it. Beside the restaurants, there is a Family Mart convenience store for drinks and snacks. There is also a gift shop with various kinds of North Korean products. Moreover, there is a big event hall where the Pyongyang circus performs.
The corporation, Hyundai, which is managing the whole tourism project, says that they are not finished yet. Soon, Hyundai will open a beach on part of North Korea’s east coast. They say that the beach will be open for tourists to do various kinds of sports. Furthermore, they are building an 18-hole golf course aimed at attracting groups of passionate golfers and their wallets.
This big tourism scheme can give great benefits to both North and South. For the North, Mount Kumgang tourism is apparently a considerable income source. It not only provides lots of money, but also plenty of jobs for unemployed North Koreans.
Overall, the project gives the communist state a great chance to rebuild its crumbled economy. For the South, the project is a suitable opportunity to solidify a good relationship with the North. The tourism project will also be a great foundation for reunification in the future. In addition, the project gives South Korea leverage to persuade North Korea’s leaders to attend the six-party talks and be more open to the world. However, many experts say that the tourism project is not big enough yet to change North Korea’s mind about the six-party talks. Therefore, we still need to exert all possible efforts for the Mount Kumgang tourism project. After all, it is the best way to preserve safety on our peninsula!
by Woo Jae-hee