Hyundai Group plans cooperation with NorthHyundai Group said Tuesday that it formed a task force focused on preparing for economic projects with North Korea after the success of the inter-Korean summit last month.
Seoul has been gearing up to resume inter-Korean cooperation projects after the two Koreas agreed to boost exchanges, visits and contacts “at all levels” in the summit meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on April 27.
Hyundai Group, which is not affiliated with Korea’s largest automaker Hyundai Motor Group, is one of the first companies to start preparing to do business with the North.
The group’s chairwoman, Hyun Jeong-eun, will head the newly established team. They will work with major affiliates that have experience in inter-Korean projects, such as Hyundai Asan and Hyundai Research Institute.
The team will meet once a week for regular discussions, but will also hold more flexible meetings in consideration of the fluctuating nature of inter-Korean relations.
The team’s priority will be preparing to resume its tour packages to Mount Kumgang and Kaesong in North Korea. The group’s unit Hyundai Asan used to run exclusive tours to the sites in North Korea until July 2008, when the tours were banned after a South Korean tourist was shot and killed by a North Korean soldier.
Before the tours came to an end, 1.95 million South Koreans visited Mount Kumgang and 110,000 visited Kaesong through Hyundai Asan, according to the company on Tuesday.
Hyundai will also look into the chances of re-opening the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which it was heavily involved in. Hyundai Asan constructed production facilities and operated accommodations at the complex before the previous administration of President Park Geun-hye closed it down.
The group hopes to find future business opportunities from the deal it inked with North Korea back in August 2000. It won the exclusive rights to develop electricity, telecommunications and railways, along with other infrastructure, in the North.
“We will get everything ready for our various inter-Korean projects to resume,” Hyun said. She also said Hyundai Group should fulfill the will of Hyundai founder Chung Ju-yung, who sought to lay the basis for unification through joint economic projects between the two Koreas
Hyundai Group, however, didn’t give a clear timeline for its projects, just saying in a statement that they will begin “as soon as possible.” It said the global environment needs to “ripen” for inter-Korean projects to resume.
BY KIM JEE-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]