South Korea’s Hyundai Group is hoping to visit North Korea early August to capitalize on the momentum of reconciliatory mood between the two Koreas to keep up the ritual of commemorating the late chairman Chung Mong-hun at Mt. Kumgang and tap the possibility of reopening its ventures there.
According to Hyundai Group on Wednesday, it will apply for a permit to visit North Korea with the Ministry of Unification, timed with the memorial day for the former son of North Korea-born and Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung. The fifth son had succeeded his father`s business legacy in North Korea until his death on Aug. 4 in 2003.
Since then, his widow and Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun held a memorial service atop Mt. Kumgang which had been developed for tourist program by Hyundai Asan under the leadership of her husband.
If the unification ministry grants the visit, South Korean businessmen will be entering North Korea for the first time inter-Korean ties were entirely cut off after South Korea pulled out of the only remaining inter-Korean venture Kaesong industrial park in February 2016. Mt. Kumgang tourism program ended after a South Korean tourist was shot down by a soldier in 2008.
Hyundai Asan, which oversees ventures in North Korea, expects to learn the result by the end of the month. The unification ministry will grant the permit if North Korea approves of the visit.
Hyundai Group has been dusting off North Korean desk since the momentum of the inter-Korean summit in April. In May, the conglomerate launched a task force headed by Chairwoman Hyun to prepare for the possible resumption of inter-Korean economic cooperation projects.
But when or if they can be revived remains unknown as lifting in the international sanctions won’t take place unless North Korea proves to be committed to denuclearization.
Hyundai Group hopes to meet with North Korea officials during the visit and discuss reopening plus new ventures in case sanctions are eased.
By Hwang Soon-min and Lee Eun-joo
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]