A recent request to visit North Korea by Hyundai Asan officials has been rejected by the North, an official from the group told NK News on Thursday.
The subsidiary of the South Korean car company said they had received a fax from the DPRK side that a planned trip to hold a memorial service at the Mount Kumgang resort “would be difficult this time.”
“It’s an annual practice but we did not apply for this last year either, so there’s no special response or future plan from the company’s side,” Lee Jae-hee, a spokesperson for the company, told NK News.
Hyundai Asan submitted a proposal to Seoul’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) on July 18 to mark the 14th anniversary of the death of Chung Mong-hun, the former chairman of the company and son of its founder Chung Ju-young, at the formerly inter-Korean-run resort.
The MOU approved the request the following day, and Hyundai Asan had reportedly been discussing the plan to visit the DPRK with the North Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee.
Hyundai Asan held annual memorial services for Chung Mong-hun, who took his own life in August 2003, from 2004 to 2016, when the company did not apply for visitation amid increased tensions in the wake of North Korea’s fourth nuclear test.
Since coming to power in May, the Moon administration has approved several requests by South Korean citizens and organizations to visit the North, but all have been rejected or ignored by the North.
A request by Seoul last week to conduct military talks with North Korean counterparts and talks on organizing reunions of families separated by the Korean War was met with silence.
During the Sunshine Era Hyundai Asan, an arm of the Hyundai Group, was a major investor in North Korea. The company managed a number of projects, including the inter-Korean resort at the Mount Kumgang Tourist Region, as well as rail and road building operations.
Visits by South Koreans to Mount Kumgang, however, was stopped in 2008, when a South Korean tourist was shot and killed by a North Korean soldier at the resort.
During his campaign for the Presidency, Moon Jae-in said the resumption of inter-Korean Mount Kumgang tours and KIC would be possible if “the North decides to at least freeze the ongoing nuclear development.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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Featured Image: Kumgangsan National Park by Clay Gilliland on 2014-06-27 08:36:34