Hyundai chairwoman to visit N. Korea

Hyun Jung-eun will visit the North's scenic Mount Kumgang on Friday to mark the death anniversary of her late husband and former group chairman Chung Mong-hun, Seoul's unification ministry said. 

Hyundai chairwoman to visit N. Korea

World Bulletin / News Desk

South Korea has approved a rare visit to the North by the head of Seoul's Hyundai Group following an invitation from Pyongyang, an official said Wednesday, raising hopes for improving business ties as a diplomatic rapprochement takes hold. 

"We approved the trip on humanitarian grounds as it is an annual commemoration event for the death anniversary," a ministry spokeswoman said.

The trip, if realised, will be the first visit to the country by Hyun since 2014. The Hyundai chairwoman met with late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il several times and was the among the first South Koreans to meet his son and current leader Kim Jong Un after he assumed power. 

The group's founder, Chung Ju-yung, championed closer ties with Pyongyang, pioneering many inter-Korea business projects including the now-closed jointly-run Kaesong industrial complex in the North.

Hyundai also poured hundreds of millions of dollars into a tourist resort at Mount Kumgang, just north of the tense border, and operated tours for South Korean visitors in an effort to promote inter-Korea ties.

But the projects suffered crippling blows as inter-Korea ties worsened and tensions rose over Pyongyang's banned nuclear programme. 

Seoul suspended all tours to Mount Kumgang in 2008 when a North Korean soldier shot dead a South Korean woman there.

The Kaesong complex was shuttered eight years later at the order of former South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, known for her hawkish stance toward the isolated North. 

Park's successor, Moon Jae-in, vowed to strengthen cross-border economic cooperation by establishing railway and roadway links connecting the two countries at a landmark summit with Kim in April.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Ağustos 2018, 14:09