“It’s a political campaign by North Korea to change South Korean policy,” says Yun Dae-gyu, vice president of Kyungnam University here. He sees little prospect of reopening tours to Kumgang, banned by South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak after a North Korean guard shot and killed a South Korean tourist who had wandered outside the tourist zone nearly three years ago.
“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.