A Korean-American businessman claims he has signed a deal with North Korea to operate tours to the scenic Mt. Kumgang resort. South Korea's Hyundai Asan previously operated the tours there until they were halted in the wake of the fatal shooting of a South Korean tourist at the resort.
Park Il-woo, also known as Steve Park, made the claim in an interview with a South Korean broadcaster on Wednesday and presented what he said was a memorandum of understanding he signed with North Korean officials on July 25. Park has been involved in a number of business dealings with North Korea, including importing soju from the cash-strapped state into the U.S.
According to the MOU, Park has been authorized to advertise, seek investments and recruit tourists for the Mt. Kumgang tours in the U.S. But South Korean officials played down the significance of the MOU.
"Even if it is true, we are not placing much importance on it," a Unification Ministry official said. "There is very little chance that the U.S. government, which has slapped sanctions on North Korea in conjunction with our government, will approve the business deal."