GNP Says Hyundai Gambled On Casinos in North Korea

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GNP Says Hyundai Gambled On Casinos in North Korea

Representative Kim Yong-kap of the opposition Grand National Party said Monday that Hyundai Asan Corp. forged an agreement with North Korea on establishing casinos at Mount Kumgang.

Mr. Kim presented a document stating that Hyundai would operate a cruise ship with a casino aboard beginning August 18, 2000. The company also agreed to run casinos in hotels at Mount Kumgang.

"The Ministry of Unification concealed the agreement because it was afraid of parliamentary opposition," Mr. Kim said.

Kim Hyung-ki, the vice minister of unification who appeared at the hearing in lieu of the newly-appointed unification minister, Hong Soon-young, played down the significance of the document.

"The casino business at Mount Kumgang must be authorized by the North and registered with our government," he said. "It would be very difficult to run casinos with just an agreement between the North and Hyundai."

The hearing also featured fireworks between the ruling and opposition parties over the authorization of the civilian visit to Pyongyang for Liberation Day celebrations last month.

"The government sanctioned the Liberation Day delegation to North Korea in an attempt to break the deadlock in government-level dialogue with civilian exchanges," Representative Park Geun-hye of the opposition Grand National Party said.

"We cannot overlook it if the delegation was allowed to go to the North under a presidential directive," said Lee Hoi-chang, head of the opposition party, referring to recent reports that President Kim Dae-jung ordered the Ministry of Unification to permit the visit.

Representative Kim Chong-hoh of the United Liberal Democrats said officials at the ministry should stop trying to shift blame to the president, and vice minister Kim denied allegations that the president directed anyone to endorse the visit.

Representative Park Sang-cheon of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party insisted that the "sunshine" policy must continue.

by Lee Young-jong

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