Unification White Paper hints at resumption of tourism to Mt. Keumgang

Posted on : 2014-03-25 12:06 KST Modified on : 2014-03-25 12:06 KST
This year’s White Paper shows a more forward-thinking stance on possible resumption, though ministry says principles have not changed

By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter

The Ministry of Unification adopted a forward-thinking message on the resumption of tourism at Mt. Keumgang in its 2014 Unification White Paper.

The announcement that it plans to “work for the resumption of tourism” at the Mt. Keumgang complex in North Korea is now raising questions about whether President Park Geun-hye will mention it in the “Korean Peninsula Unification Initiative” she is set to announce in Dresden, Germany on Mar. 28.

The 2014 White Paper, published by the ministry on Mar. 24, states that the administration “plans to work continues to allay the public’s concerns about tourism at Mt. Keumgang and ensure that it can be resumed in a way that contributes to development.”

It is the most proactive message yet from the Park administration on resuming tourism since it was shut down in July 2008 after the shooting death of a South Korean tourist. Earlier White Papers had expressed more cautious or conditional positions, with the 2012 White Paper stating plans to “adhere to the basic principle of solving problems through dialogue” and the 2013 paper stating that “tourism could be resumed if North Korea pledges a guarantee between authorities on physical safety.”

“Tourism at Mt. Keumgang was the starting point both for the improvement of inter-Korean relations in 1998 and their deterioration in 2008,” said Kim Chang-soo, director of research at the Korea National Strategy Institute. “President Park needs to make a priority of resuming it if she wants her ‘unification jackpot’ and expanded exchange and cooperation.”

A senior official from the ministry said the White Paper this year reflected the fact that talks with Pyongyang on the resumption of tourism at Mt. Keumgang were very nearly held last year.

“This is not a change in principles,” the official added.

 

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