Posted by: rbbadger | August 18, 2009

North Korea to permit tours again

Ever since Kim Dae Jung, former president of the Republic of Korea, went to Korea and met with Kim Jong-il, a couple of parts of North Korea have become popular places for South Koreans to visit.  One of them is the Geumgangsan mountain range, home of some of the most dramatic scenery in the whole peninsula.  The other is the old city of Gaeseong, once the capital city of the whole peninsula during the Goryeo Dynasty. 

North Korea has some pretty important places to the Korean psyche.  Chief among them is Baekdusan, that huge volcano with its impressive crater lake known as Lake Chonji.  According to legend, Baekdusan is where the eponymous ancestor of the Korean people, Dangun, lived.  North Korea, ever seeking to lay claim to as many Korean heritages as possible, claims to this day that Kim Jong-il was born on Baekdusan.  The reality is that he was born in Russia. 

The chairwoman of the Hyundai Group has been in North Korea negotiating the release of one of her employees.  There are South Koreans who oversee operations at the Gaeseong Industrial Complex.  Apparently, one of them allegedly said disparaging things about both Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il and encouraged a North Korean to defect.  These are serious crimes in North Korea.  Somehow, she was able to win his release and also to permit South Korean tourists to visit again, at least according to the New York Times.  You can read that story here.

The other thing which they will permit is the resumption of family reunions.  The division between North and South touches more people that you could imagine.  One Korea friend of mine never knew her grandparents.  Following the Korean War, her father and some of his family were fortunate enough to end up in the South.  Her grandparents ended up in North Korea and her father never saw them again.  She is close to my age.



  1. Dang! I’m glad they’re allowing those things now. That’s good.

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