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North Korea: Foreign investors flocking to tourist zone

North Korea is using incentives to attract early investors willing to provide Pyongyang funds before 2017.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea is working with several Asian and European companies on the development of its Wonsan-Mount Kumgang International Tourist Zone, according to state media. Photo by Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock
North Korea is working with several Asian and European companies on the development of its Wonsan-Mount Kumgang International Tourist Zone, according to state media. Photo by Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock

SEOUL, July 24 (UPI) -- North Korea said international investors are showing strong interest in the co-development of its Wonsan-Mount Kumgang International Tourist Zone, seven years after South Korea tours to the region were suspended.

Oh Ung Kil, North Korea vice chairman of the tourist zone, said North Korea is working with several Asian and European companies on the region's development, Yonhap reported.

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Pyongyang's state media outlet KCNA said during a recent investment seminar several contracts were finalized with foreign firms in the design planning, IT and construction sectors.

Firms offering food and drink, transportation and lodging services also were mentioned as investors – signs that pointed to direct foreign involvement in reviving tourism in the scenic mountain region.

Oh said there are plans to develop tourist attractions with special events, including mountain marathons and cycling competitions, according to South Korean outlet CBS No Cut News.

Incentives are being used to attract early investors, North Korea said, including lower fees of admission into the zone, lower rent and other "benefits" for those who commit funds to the area before 2017.

North Korea held a similar investment seminar in May, reportedly attended by Chinese and Swedish officials.

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Tours of Mount Kumgang were suspended when a South Korean tourist was fatally shot in July 2008 but South Korean firms recently called for a resumption of tours.

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