North Korea has adopted a new law allowing foreign corporations and individuals to invest in the Mt. Kumgang resort and for foreigners to visit the area without a visa, the North's KCNA news agency reported Thursday.
The new law paves the way for countries besides South Korea to organize tours to Mt. Kumgang. In April, the North unilaterally cancelled Hyundai Asan's exclusive contract to run the tour program after Seoul stopped tours following the shooting death of a South Korean visitor there.
The latest announcement is widely seen as a ruse to get South Korea to resume the tours.
The North apparently concluded that it would be difficult to earn as much from the tour program as it did from Hyundai Asan if it invited a new tour operator from another country. Visitors from countries other than the South made up a mere 0.6 percent, or 13,000 of about 1.95 million tourists to the scenic mountain resort since 1998.
The new law includes a clause saying South Koreans and overseas Koreans "can also invest" in the area. The regime earned more than US$500 million from the tours when Asan operated them between 1998 and 2008.