Wednesday, August 31, 2011

North Korea kicks South Korea out of Mount Kumgang Project

Mount Kumgang is a joint project shared between the two Koreas, located on the eastern coast in North Korea's Gangwon Province.  Or at least, it was shared until North Korea kicked South Korea out of it.  After telling South Korean investors to draw up plans to protect their assets, they have been forced out of the resort entirely.  Now North Korea wants to open it up to tourism from China and other countries, seeing as a viable resource to add wealth to its struggling coffers.  Once a symbol of possible compromise between the two nations technically at war, now this resort stands as yet another source of conflict.

South Korea and North Korea haven't seen eye to eye for a good while, namely due to the rising tensions between the countries over the past few years.  One incident that directly involves the Kumgang Resort occured in 2008, when a South Korean tourist was shot and killed.  South Korea petitioned for a formal apology from the North, as well as a full investigation into the matter.  As a result of this and other recent events, the Mount Kumgang talks ceased, with neither side willing to budge on its stance.  This resort not only once served as a meeting point between the two countries for talks during more peaceful times, it was also the site of tearful reunions of families separated by the Korean War sixty years ago.

But now North Korea hopes to attract tourists from all around the globe with its tour packages.  The package would take you from Yanji on the eastern China/North Korea border on a drive down through North Korea to the port of Rason, and then on a leisurely boat cruise to Kumgang.  How much would it cost a tourist to embark on this 5-day all-inclusive tour?  A mere $310 US dollars.

South Korea plans on sending appeals to all countries who might consider visiting North Korea encouraging them not to partake in any offered tour packages.  

Would you want to take a tour in North Korea to Mount Kumgang?

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