South Korean CEO resigns over tourist death in North Korea


SEOUL, South Korea — The head of a South Korean company running sightseeing programs to North Korea resigned Thursday over the shooting death of a tourist at a mountain resort in the communist nation.

Yoon Man-jun stepped down as CEO of Hyundai Asan over the July 11 killing of the 53-year-old South Korean woman by a North Korean soldier at the North’s Diamond Mountain resort, the company said in a statement.

The company quoted Yoon as saying that he wanted to take “moral responsibility” for the death.

Yoon has been transferred to a new post as adviser to Hyundai Research Institute, an economic think-tank, the statement said.

Cho Kun-shik, a former vice minister at the Unification Ministry — which handles South Korea’s relations with the North — was named to succeed Yoon at a shareholder meeting Thursday.

Hyundai Asan is the main South Korean investor in North Korea. The company built a joint venture factory park in the North, and has organized tours to the isolated nation. Along with its tours to Diamond Mountain, it also sends tourists to the North’s border city of Kaesong.

The Diamond mountain program has been suspended since the shooting, but the Kaesong program is still running.

North Korea claimed the victim was shot because she entered a restricted military area.

The South questioned the claim and demanded a joint investigation, which Pyongyang has rejected.

The shooting has further frayed already troubled ties between the two Koreas.

The two sides fought the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the divided peninsula still technically at war.

Relations between the two neighbors had warmed significantly after the first-ever summit of their leaders in 2000, but chilled again this year after conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office in February with a pledge to get tough on the North.