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S. Korean business group visits N. Korea amid tension

All Headlines 11:30 August 03, 2013

SEOUL, Aug. 3 (Yonhap) -- A group of South Korean business people crossed the border with North Korea on Saturday to hold a memorial service there for the late chairman of Hyundai Group Chung Mong-hun, who spearheaded inter-Korean business projects.

The delegation, lead by Hyundai Group's Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun, Chung's widow, crossed the Demilitarized Zone on the country's east cost earlier in the day.

They are scheduled to return over the demarcation line at around 4 p.m. later in the day after holding the memorial service at the Mount Kumgang resort in the communist country. The resort on the North's east coast was pushed strongly by Chung.

The late Hyundai Group chairman, who aggressively sought a joint tourism and other business projects with North Korea, committed suicide in 2003 amid an investigation into allegations that former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung secretly transferred large sums of money to the North ahead of a 2000 inter-Korean summit.

The visit by the delegation was approved by the South Korean government on Thursday as the two Koreas have been in deadlock over the resumption of an inter-Korean industrial complex in the North.

The industrial complex in the North Korean border city of Kaesong started operations in 2004 as a result of the historic 2000 summit.

Hyundai Asan Corp., Hyundai Group's North Korea business arm, had been at the forefront of inter-Korean business cooperation and played a leading role in the opening of the mountain resort and the Kaesong factory zone, both of which have been halted.

All visits to Mount Kumgang were suspended after the shooting death of a female South Korean tourist by a North Korean guard in the summer of 2008, while operations at the jointly run industrial complex have been halted since April after the North withdrew all of its 53,000 workers amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Meanwhile, the Seoul government said earlier it has no plan to send a message to the North via the Hyundai delegation, who will probably meet with North Korean officials.

sam@yna.co.kr
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