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Unification minister renews pitch for individual tourism to N.K.

All News 15:24 August 14, 2020

SEOUL, Aug. 14 (Yonhap) -- Unification Minister Lee In-young on Friday renewed the government's pitch for resuming long-suspended tours to North Korea on an individual basis, saying the project can begin with separated family members visiting their hometowns in the North.

Lee made the remarks in his speech during a panel discussion at the National Assembly on Friday, saying that individual tourism is "a new area of inter-Korean cooperation to break the impasse between the two Koreas and a creative solution to the Mount Kumgang issue."

"We can begin by allowing separated and displaced families to travel back first and foremost, and expand the scope and areas to Kaesong and Mount Kumgang, and allow trips to North Korea through a third country or tours for foreigners to the two Koreas," he said.

Seoul has sought to allow individual trips to the North since President Moon Jae-in cited it as a possible cross-border project that could be pursued to expand exchanges and cooperation without violating international sanctions on Pyongyang.

The idea of individual tourism to North Korea emerged last year as a "creative" alternative to the long-suspended tour project at Mount Kumgang on the North's east coast. The program came to a halt in 2008 after a South Korean traveler was shot dead near the resort.

New Unification Minister Lee In-young speaks during a meeting of the ministry at the government complex in Seoul on July 28, 2020. Lee took office without a ceremony marking his inauguration. (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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