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Golf course to open at North Korea's Mt. Geumgang

All Headlines 11:31 May 27, 2008

SEOUL, May 27 (Yonhap) -- The first South Korean-built golf course in North Korea will open this week in the scenic Mount Geumgang area, a company operating the facility said Tuesday.

The "Kumgang Ananti Golf and Spa Resort," including a 18-hole golf course, will open to the public Wednesday after nearly four years of construction, Emerson Pacific Group, a Seoul-based leisure firm, said.

Built on about 1.7 million square meters of land, the resort also has a spa, a hotel and restaurants that provide nice sea and mountain views, according to Kim Min-jeong, a publicity official of the company.

A tourist resort operated by Hyundai Asan, an arm of Hyundai Group dealing with North Korea, is already operating at the mountain.

The golf course has already drawn media attention over its 929-meter number three hole, the world's longest.

The facility, however, will be operated on a membership-only basis for the time being, Kim said, adding that the company plans to open the facility to individual tourists around next year.

Emerson Pacific is waiting for Pyongyang to give the company permission to employ about 200 North Koreans, including 60 caddies, at the resort, the official said.

The opening comes amid frosty relations between the Koreas since the conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office in late February with a pledge to get tough on Pyongyang.

North Korea reacted by expelling all South Korean officials from Mount Geumgang and the joint industrial complex in Kaesong, a North Korean border town, and cutting off inter-Korean dialogue. Civilian exchanges, however, are continuing smoothly despite the tension, according to officials at the Unification Ministry.

As many as 100,300 South Koreans visited Mount Geumgang during the first five months this year, up from 58,000 a year earlier, according to Hyundai Asan, which operates the tour program.

sshim@yna.co.kr
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