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N. Korean firm calls for talks with Hyundai over mountain resort

All Headlines 15:00 September 06, 2011

BEIJING, Sept. 6 (Yonhap) -- The head of a North Korean company responsible for attracting foreign capital on Tuesday proposed holding a meeting with a South Korean firm to resolve a row over assets at a scenic mountain resort in the North.

Park Chol-su, head of Daepung International Investment Group, said he wants to discuss with South Korea's Hyundai Asan how to handle its assets at the North's Mount Kumgang.

Hyundai Group's inter-Korean business arm has invested US$196 million in building hotels, a restaurant and other facilities at the resort since 1998 when the North opened it for South Korean tourists.

The South Korean company is the largest investor in the cross-border program that was once seen as a key symbol of reconciliation on the divided Korean Peninsula.

South Korea suspended the joint tour program following the 2008 shooting death of a tourist by a North Korean soldier near the resort.

Seoul has since been demanding Pyongyang's formal apology for the incident and security measures for its tourists.

The North recently expelled South Korean workers from the resort and vowed to legally dispose of all South Korean assets after it unsuccessfully tried to pressure Seoul to resume the tour program.

Still, Park said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday that it's up to Hyundai Asan whether it can run or lease or sell its assets in the resort.

Hyundai Asan said it had not received any official proposal from Park's company.

Park's comment came days after North Korea made a trial run of a cruise from its northeastern port city of Rajin to the resort on its east coast.

Park said the North will hold a second trial cruise for foreign investors later this month before starting the tours for ordinary tourists in late October.

Also Tuesday, the South Korean government plans to hold a meeting of its task force to try to map out its strategy on how to deal with the North's unilateral move.

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