Seoul taking new coronavirus into consideration while weighing individual tours to N.K.
SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is taking the issue of the new coronavirus into consideration as it contemplates a proposal to allow its citizens to travel to North Korea on an individual basis to revive inter-Korean exchanges, the unification ministry said Friday.
The government has been working on the individual tourism idea after President Moon Jae-in cited it as a possible way to expand inter-Korean exchanges without violating U.N. sanctions on the North last month.
But the push hit a snag after the deadly virus broke out in China and across the globe. As of Friday, South Korea has confirmed 24 cases of the new virus.
"We are reviewing the issue, taking into consideration the situation related to the new coronavirus," deputy minister spokesperson Cho Hey-sil told a regular press briefing.
Although North Korea has not reported any confirmed coronavirus cases, it has said that there are people quarantined for showing symptoms.
Pyongyang declared the launch of a national emergency system against the virus last month, calling it a "political matter" that could determine the fate of the country. It has tightened its borders with China and increased quarantines for people coming from the neighboring country.
North Korea has also asked the South to temporarily shut down their joint liaison office in the North's border town of Kaesong until the threat from the virus is completely eased.
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