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S. Korean firms urge S.Korea, DPRK to resolve tourism row

(Xinhua)

08:48, September 06, 2011

SEOUL, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- South Korean companies that have invested in a stalled joint venture at a mountain resort in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Monday urged the two countries to resolve the impasse over the tour project.

In a visit to the unification ministry in Seoul, some 30 small- sized local firms called for "active efforts" by both sides to narrow their differences over the suspended cross-border tours to Mountain Kumgang, according to local media.

Representatives of the firms reportedly pledged not to participate in a new international tour program Pyongyang is seeking to promote. The South Korean government also discourages foreign investment in the new venture.

The tours were put on hold in 2008 after a shooting death of a South Korean tourist who ventured into a restricted zone, and Seoul has long since refused to resume the tours without safety guarantees and a proper investigation into the incident.

In response to Seoul's reluctance to reopen the once-lucrative tours, Pyongyang seized all South Korean properties at the tourist park, estimated at 325.5 million U.S. dollars, and unilaterally terminated its deal with a South Korean tour operator.

Seoul has condemned the move as a violation of business contracts and property rights of its people.

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