According to Bloomberg (February 10, 2012), a New York-based company - Korea Pyongyang Trading USA – has been hired by North Korea to help open its Diamond Mountain Resort to Americans. The company has dealt with North Korea before – mainly selling Nork alcohol but they are pretty confident that they will be able to do a great job at promoting the resort. Why are they doing it you ask?
Simon T. Bai, 67, director of marketing and planning for Korea Pyongyang, said the company wants Americans to visit North Korea to give the nation exposure to freedom and democracy….“We’re doing this with hopes that resuming tours to Geumgang could help open North Korea up, and thereby help unite the two Koreas again,” Bai said in a telephone interview from his home in Queens, New York, which serves as the company’s headquarters. “Isn’t this the kind of business that’s really worth doing?”
I am sure money had nothing to do with it unlike the “Sun-keeps-shining”-Daewoo-ship-building companyof South Korea. Of course, not all of Korea’s companies are showing the love. From the Bloomberg article:
“Hyundai Asan exclusively holds the license to operate tours at Mount Geumgang, and it is unfair to give business to others,” Park Soo Jin, the deputy spokeswoman of South Korea’s Unification Ministry, the government agency charged with working toward recombining the two Koreas, said in a telephone interview. “This is what we have clearly specified and it is a wrongful violation of the agreements to act otherwise.”
But then again, we have already talked about this in great detail here.
Apparently Korea Pyongyang Trading USA was chosen because of Steve Parks – a Korean-American who has done business with the Norks before and apparently others:
Steve Park, also known as Park Il Woo, is a South Korean citizen who holds permanent residency in the U.S. He pleaded guilty in 2007 to lying to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation about his contacts with officials from South Korea and served 18 months of probation, according to court documents.
Park elected not to comment to Bloomberg but earlier articles from New York Times [South Korean businessman charged with lying to the FBI - July 20, 2007] and [Bizarre turn seen in case of Korean spy - May 27, 2008] and [One Free Korea] may provide the answers to some of your questions.
The choice may have also had something to do with the target market:
Bai said his company is focused mainly on attracting Korean Americans who left the peninsula and are still nostalgic for their homeland.
I always thought it was tough to visit North Korea – at least that is what I was told at SFCC but:
People in the U.S. don’t need government permission to travel to North Korea, according to the U.S. State Department. The agency warns visitors that the North Korean regime confiscates tourists’ cell phones, monitors their hotel rooms and phone calls and considers unauthorized attempts to speak with its citizens as acts of espionage. Visitors are subject to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment without protection against inhumane treatment, the agency says.