South Korea's Hyundai petitioning to hold memorial in North Korea

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  July 11, 2018 at 10:30 AM
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July 11 (UPI) -- One of South Korea's largest conglomerates is seeking government permission to hold a memorial in a North Korean tourist park for one of its deceased business executives.

Hyundai Group, the parent company of Hyundai Asan, is seeking approval for travel to the North ahead of the 15th anniversary of the death of Chung Mong-hun, the industrialist who pushed for inter-Korea reconciliation through business initiatives, Yonhap reported Wednesday.

Chung died on Aug. 4, 2003, when he fell from the 12th floor of Hyundai Asan headquarters. The death at the time was ruled a suicide and came after Chung was facing trial on charges of secretly sending at least $100 million in funds from Seoul to the North, ahead of the landmark summit in June 2000.

Yonhap reported it is likely the government will approve travel for Hyundai executives, a move that would then raise the possibility of resuming South Korean travel to Mount Kumgang, a North Korean tourist resort.

The trips were suspended after a South Korean tourist was fatally shot in 2008. North Korea claimed the woman, Park Wang-ja, was in a military zone.

If the Hyundai request is approved on both sides, the South Korean executives are likely to meet with the Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee in the North, where the Mount Kumgang project could be discussed, according to Yonhap.

Mount Kumgang operations have been suspended for 10 years, but Seoul's unification ministry is keeping an eye on developments, News 1 reported Wednesday.

"In order for economic cooperation to proceed full scale, conditions such as progress on denuclearization must be met, and issues like resuming tourism to Mount Kumgang needs to be the subject of negotiations," News 1's source at the ministry said.

Hyundai Asan formed a task force in May focused on inter-Korea economic cooperation, according to the report.

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