U.S. Slams Plans to Resume Package Tours to N.Korea

  • By Cho Yi-jun

    May 29, 2017 12:16

    The U.S. State Department on Friday slammed plans by the new South Korean government to resume package tours to North Korea.

    State Department spokeswoman Katina Adams told Voice of America that tourism revenues could flow into North Korea's weapons development programs and urged potential visitors to the North to think about where their money may be headed. Adams said Pyongyang draws money from "various sources" to fund its nuclear and missile development programs.

    The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill aimed at prohibiting American tourists from visiting North Korea.

    But President Moon Jae-in is keen to return to exchanges with North Korea, and his special adviser on diplomacy and security, Moon Chung-in, last week said tours to the scenic Mt. Kumgang resort in the North should resume.

    The tours were halted in 2008 when North Korean soldiers shot and killed a South Korean tourist, but the adviser in a baffling outburst declared the reason for stopping cross-border business "null."

    The U.S. Congressional Research Service projects that the Moon administration could clash with the U.S. over approaches to North Korea. In a report last week, the CRS said Moon has been opposed to the policy of dealing with North Korea through sanctions and vowed in his election campaign to visit the North if elected and reopen the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex.

    "If South Korea takes some of these moves, it remains unclear whether they will clash with the Trump administration's call to apply 'maximum pressure' on North Korea," the report said.

    The report highlighted a pending bill called the Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act, which will expand secondary U.S. sanctions against companies and other entities that conduct some types of business with North Korean enterprises. That would make it difficult for Seoul to follow through on any plans to reopen the Kaesong complex, which was shut in 2016 following the North's nuclear test.

    The CRS pointed out that Moon "said that he will pursue inter-Korean dialogue and projects only following 'a shift in North Korea's attitude or under the right circumstances,'" but added, "a key question is whether this conditioning will apply to all forms of inter-Korean cooperation."

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