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Resumption of Mt. Kumgang tour not linked with DPRK's nuke issue: S Korean official
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18:12, September 29, 2009

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Whether to restart cross-border tour program to Mount Kumgang resort is not linked with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s nuclear issue, a South Korean senior official said on Tuesday.

Vice Unification Minister Hong Yang-ho made the remarks in Sokcho, a South Korea's eastern coastal border town where South Korean separated families gathered on their way to an ongoing reunions in Mount Kumgang resort.

The vice minister told reporters that the Mount Kumgamg tour program is an "ordinary issue" between Seoul and Pyongyang.

"If we connect even this to the nuclear dispute, it would be no different than saying no to all inter-Korean exchanges," Hong said.

 Local media saw Hong's remarks as hints that Seoul is considering the possibility of resuming Mount Kumang tour program that came to a halt in July last year after a South Korean woman was shot dead by the DPRK's soldiers.

The official also reiterated Seoul's stance on the tour resumption, noting that it should be based on an official apology, a safety guarantee by the DPRK, and a promise that similar incidents would not take place again.

On July 11 last year, a 53-year-old South Korean housewife, Park Wang-ja, was shot dead while she was wandering into a controlled military zone at the Mount Kumgang at the DPRK's east coast.

South Korea, in response, immediately suspended the tour program, requesting a thorough investigation, which the DPRK rejected.

The Kumgang tour program, run by South Korea's Hyundai Asian Corp., has been launched in 1998. More than 1.9 million South Koreans have visited the resort.


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