The Choson Mt. Kumgang International Travel Agency has revealed special considerations for individuals and companies which are interested in the Mt. Kumgang tourism business.
According to the agency on May 1, North Korea’s goal is to develop Mt. Kumgang as a special international tourism zone, with Pyongyang encouraging corporations and individuals from foreign countries and South Korea to invest.
The agency added that foreign businesses in the Tourism Special Zone will be able to hire South Korean citizens as well as Koreans living in foreign countries, and their economic activities in the zone will be protected by law.
It also said that foreign businesses will be able to borrow land in the zone for up to 50 years, and they will enjoy a special tax benefit.
In addition, foreign businesses and individuals in the zone will be able to open accounts with banks outside of North Korea, and they will be free to transact with foreign banks.
Tours to Mt. Kumgang in North Korea, which started in 1998, were halted after a South Korean tourist was shot by a North Korean soldier in 2008.
The May 24th Measure – the suspension of all inter-Korean economic exchanges except humanitarian aid in 2010 – started under the Lee Myung-bak administration after the sinking of South Korea’s Cheonan naval vessel, which was blamed on the North, in 2010.
However, the South Korean government recently announced that the resumption of tours to Mt. Kumgang needs to be reconsidered for improving inter-Korean relations.
Kim Eui-do, a spokesman of South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, told reporters on March 24 that the South Korean government is willing to reconsider the resumption of tours to Mt. Kumgang when North Korea takes the relevant and responsible action in terms of securing the safety of South Korean tourists.
In addition, the Ministry of Unification announced on April 25 that the government has decided to lend a total of 20 billion won ($19 million) to South Korean businesses, including those who invested in Mt. Kumgang’s tourism business or imported goods from North Korea with advance payments before the May 24th Measure.
The South Korean government previously provided loans to those businesses in 2009 and 2010.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) also reported on Monday that a tourism college has opened in Pyongyang. KCNA said that college was “one of a series of measures taken by the government to develop tourism,” and will provide training and exchange programmes. According to O Hyon, the department director of the State General Bureau of Tourism, the construction of the college was “prompted by the demand for the development of tourism in the country.”
Featured Image: Jo, Creative Commons