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S. Korean biz group visits N. Korea for memorial service of late chairman

2015/08/04 14:23

GOSEONG, South Korea, Aug. 4 (Yonhap) -- A group of South Korean businesspeople crossed the inter-Korean border Tuesday to hold a memorial service in North Korea for the late chairman of Hyundai Group, Chung Mong-hun, who spearheaded an inter-Korean tour program.

The 22-member delegation, led by Cho Kun-shik, president of Hyundai Asan, a South Korean operator of the now-suspended joint tour program, left for Mount Kumgang on the North's east coast to commemorate the 12th anniversary of Chung's death, according to company officials.

Chung, who aggressively pursued the tour program and other business projects with the North, committed suicide in 2003 amid an investigation into allegations that former President Kim Dae-jung secretly transferred large sums of money to the North ahead of a 2000 inter-Korean summit.

In accordance with Chung's wishes, his ashes were scattered near a resort on the mountain.

Hyundai chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun, Chung's widow, did not accompany the delegation, the officials said.

The businesspeople also plan to check properties remaining at the resort on Mount Kumgang, according to company officials.

Hyundai Asan kicked off the joint tour program at Mount Kumgang in 1998, a symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation, but Seoul suspended the tours in 2008, after the shooting death of a South Korean female tourist by a North Korean solider at the resort.

Pyongyang has called for the resumption of the tour program, which once served as one of the few legitimate revenue sources for the cash-strapped country.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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