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Hyundai officials visit N. Korea amid dispute over fate of S. Korean assets

All Headlines 15:36 August 19, 2011

By Kim Kwang-tae

SEOUL, Aug. 19 (Yonhap) -- Four officials of a South Korean conglomerate visited a scenic mountain resort in North Korea on Friday to try to resolve the dispute over the fate of South Korea's assets there, an official said,

The latest trip by Hyundai Asan officials comes on Friday's deadline set last month by the North for the legal disposal of the assets.

North Korea has threatened to dispose of the assets unless South Korean investors either join its new international tour program for Mount Kumgang or lease, transfer or sell their assets.

The officials traveled to the resort for in-depth talks with North Korea to try to work out the dispute in their third trip this month, the Hyundai official said.

South Korea had invested tens of millions of dollars in building hotels, restaurants, a golf course and other facilities at the resort since 1998 when the North opened it for South Korean tourists.

Hyundai Asan, the inter-Korean business arm of Hyundai Group, operated the tour program until it was suspended in 2008 following the shooting death of a South Korean tourist at the resort.

The North has deprived Hyundai of its exclusive rights to the tour project and seized all South Korean assets there after it unsuccessfully tried to pressure the South to resume the tour program that served as a key cash cow for the North.

South Korea has vowed to explore every legal and diplomatic means to protect its property rights and warned the North that it will be held accountable for all consequences resulting from its disposal of the assets.


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