Seoul turns down North Korean offer to revive joint tourism project

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Seoul – South Korea on Monday rebuffed an offer by North Korea to revive a lucrative tourism project.

The Unification Ministry in Seoul said it turned down an offer by Pyongyang to discuss the continuation a cross-border tourism project at the North’s Mount Kumgang resort.

The project was halted one year ago, when a South Korean tourist was shot by North Korean soldiers when she wandered into a restricted military zone.

The move comes two weeks after vessels of the two countries exchanged fire near a disputed maritime border in the Yellow Sea.

A ministry spokesman said the proposal came during a visit of Hyun Jung Eun, the chief Hyundai Group which also operated the tours, to Kumgang.

‘We don’t see it as an official dialogue proposal between the governments,’ Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said. It remained unclear whether North Korea would make a similar offer via official channels.

North Korea in the past rejected a joint investigation of last year’s shooting, a key South Korean condition for reviving the tours.