Seoul calls revoking of Mount Kumgang ‘illegal’

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Seoul calls revoking of Mount Kumgang ‘illegal’

Seoul yesterday hit back at Pyongyang’s announcement that it plans to strip a South Korean company of the exclusive right to bring tourists to its scenic mountain site, urging the North to call off the move.

“The unilateral claim by the North Korean side is an illegal and unfair act, which violates the contract between the business operators, the agreement between the authorities [of the two Koreas] and international laws,” said Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung during a media briefing. “We will watch the situation in close consultation with the business operator of our side and take relevant measures.”

Last Saturday, the North informed the South through its state-run Asia-Pacific Peace Committee that it would revoke the monopoly of Hyundai Asan over the stalled tourist program at Mount Kumgang.

The tour program, the biggest of the few cross-border tourist programs ever operated between the two Koreas, was started in 1998 with a 30-year exclusive deal for Hyundai.

The exclusive right, under which South Koreans and foreign nationals could travel to Kumgang, near the East Sea, only through Hyundai’s program, was extended in 2002 for 50 years, Hyundai Asan said. The program has been suspended by the South since the shooting of a South Korean tourist by a North Korean soldier in July 2008.

The North, however, said in the statement of the committee that it will arrange its own the tours to Kumgang through borders other than the one with the South, and could entrust the operation of the tours to a foreign company. It said Hyundai Asan will continue to operate the tour through the inter-Korean border.

The move is widely seen as a reprisal for the South’s refusal to resume the program. Seoul has demanded safety assurance from the North for future tourists, which it hasn’t received.

About 1.96 million people participated in the Hyundai’s tour program between 1998 and 2008 and only about 12,000 of them were foreigners, the company said.

The company claimed it still has the monopoly, saying the contract cannot be annulled through a one-sided notification.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [연합]
통일부 "'北금강산 조치' 즉각 철회해야"

통일부는 11일 북한이 금강산관광 사업에 대한 현대아산의 독점권을 취소한다고 밝힌 데 대해 "받아들일 수 없으며 즉각 철회돼야 한다"고 밝혔다.

천해성 통일부 대변인은 이날 브리핑을 통해 "북한의 일방적 주장은 사업자 간 계약과 당국 간 합의, 국제규범에 어긋나는 불법적이고 부당한 처사"라며 이같이 말했다.

천 대변인은 "앞으로 우리 측 사업자와 긴밀히 협의해 사태를 주시하고 관련 조치를 취해 나갈 것"이라고 강조했다.

그는 관련 조치와 관련, "현재 시점에서 구체적으로 말하기는 적절치 않다"며 "필요한 조치가 있다면 상황전개에 따라 사업자와 협의해 취해 나갈 생각"이라고 설명했다.


북한 대남기구인 조선아시아태평양평화위원회는 8일 현대그룹의 금강산 관광사업 독점권의 효력을 취소한다고 밝혔다고 조선중앙통신이 전했다.

아태평화위 대변인은 담화를 통해 "북측 지역을 통한 금강산 관광은 우리가 맡아 하되 해외사업자에게 위임할 수 있고, 남측 지역을 통한 관광은 현대가 계속 맡아 한다"고 밝혔다.

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