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North Korea takes over Mt. Kumgang tourist area, further dimming Sunshine legacy

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“This government claims they have to apologize, and they are not going to do that,” says Mr. Yun. At the same time, he doubts if North Korea will succeed in luring many tourists from China, as North Korean authorities say they plan to do.

In fact, if there is any reason to think the North Koreans may try to make amends with the South on Kumgang it's because of the difficulty they're having in drumming up interest in China.

South Korean officials meanwhile are adamant: “We demand North Korea take responsibility for shooting our tourist,” says Lee Jong-joo, a spokeswoman at the Unification Ministry, citing North Korea’s agreement with South Korea as guaranteeing Hyundai Asan’s right to the facilities. “North Korea does not respond.”

The overriding message is that of frustration in reaching any permanent understanding with North Korea on anything from business deals to doing away with its nuclear program.

An agreement between the US and North Korea, signed at Geneva in 1994 for North Korea to abandon the nuclear program in exchange for twin light-water nuclear energy reactors, broke apart eight years later with the discovery of a separate, secret uranium-enrichment program. North Korea also has not lived up to agreements reached in six-party talks in 2007.

Until the killing of the tourist, however, Hyundai Asan was still bringing South Korean and foreign tourists daily to Kumgang. The influx of tourists seemed to prove the success of the “sunshine” policy that the late Kim Dae-jung, president of South Korea from 1998 to 2003, had propounded when he flew to Pyongyang in June 2000 to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-il for the first inter-Korean summit.

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