Hyundai Group will celebrate on Mt. Kumgang

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Hyundai Group will celebrate on Mt. Kumgang

Hyundai Group said Monday it will hold a ceremony to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the launch of tours to Mount Kumgang, the scenic resort mountain in North Korea, as prospects for the restarting of those tours rise.

The South Korean company said it will prepare for a two-day event beginning on Nov. 18 with the North’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee.

About 100 South Koreans will participate in the event including Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun, 30 Hyundai Group employees and other invited guests. From the North, about 80 officials are expected to attend. The guest list and program for the ceremony are still being discussed, Hyundai said. Once details are finalized, it will seek approval from the North.

Pioneered by Hyundai Group’s late founder Chung Ju-yung, Hyun’s father-in-law, the group tours began on Nov. 18, 1998, with a cruise ship bringing about 1,400 people from South Korea to the resort mountain. In 2003, groups started going by land as well.

South Korea stopped the tours after the fatal shooting of a South Korean female tourist by a North Korean soldier in 2008, which has yet to be explained or apologized for.

“Tours to Mount Kumgang are currently suspended, however, it is meaningful that the two Koreas are jointly holding a commemorating ceremony for the inter-Korean program,” a spokesperson from the Hyundai Group said. “We hope this event could be a stepping stone in resuming the tours, which were a symbol of peace and cooperation between South and North Korea.”

As inter-Korean relations thaw after three summit meetings between the two Koreas’ leaders this year, there have been rising expectations for the Kumgang tours to resume.

When Hyun returned to South Korea after attending a memorial service for her late husband and former chairman of the group Chung Mong-hun held at Mount Kumgang in August, she told reporters North Korean authorities told her they wanted the tours to resume.

If Hyun crosses the border again on Nov. 18, it will be her third time visiting North Korea this year. She joined South Korean President Moon Jae-in on his trip to Pyongyang for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in September.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]

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