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US company to invest in North Korea resort


Published on Feb 13, 2012

A US firm has been chosen to operate the Mount Geumgang resort in partnership with the North Korean government.

Despite the loss of it Dear Leader late last year, North Korea is moving forward with plans to develop its tourism sector. The closeted regime last year invited foreign partners to invest in its Mount Geumgang resort, a purpose built retreat which was developed and managed in partnership with South Korea before a tourist was shot dead in 2008 putting an end to the collaboration. The latest investor to enter the frame is Korea Pyongyang Trading USA, a New York-based liquor importer, which is working on a plan to attract travellers to North Korea’s east coast destination. The company was hired in July to study opening a casino at Geumgang, according to documents it submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice in December Simon T. Bai, 67, Director of Marketing and Planning for Korea Pyongyang, said the company wants Americans to visit North Korea to give the nation exposure to freedom and democracy.

“We’re doing this with hopes that resuming tours to Geumgang could help open North Korea up, and thereby help unite the two Koreas again,” Bai said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg. South Korea has objected to the arrangement however, saying it infringes upon the rights of Hyundai Asan Corp which developed the resort in partnership with North Korea, and since had its assets seized. The agreement with North Korea will see the government and Korea Pyongyang jointly operate the resort. North Korea chose the company because its Chief Executive Offi cer, Steve Park, has “extensive” connections within the upper echelons of the North Korean regime and a history of doing business with them, Bai said. The company used to export North Korean beer, soju and vodka before business was thwarted by a consumer moratorium on North Korean products after the tourist shooting in 2008.

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