August 15, 2009

Hyundai leader extends N. Korea visit

The chairwoman of South Korea's Hyundai Group is staying longer than planned in North Korea, awaiting a chance to see leader Kim Jong Il, officials say.

Hyundai leader Hyun Jung-eun was to have returned to Seoul Saturday after winning the release of a detained worker this week, but has extended her stay another day in hopes she can meet with Kim to negotiate resuming Hyundai's tourism and other suspended ventures in the North, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

Chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun's entourage has informed (the Seoul office) that they will extend their stay by one day, Hyundai said in an e-mailed statement to Yonhap.

The news agency said Hyun is keen to thaw relations with Pyongyang. The company is reportedly facing financial hardships as the North suspended joint ventures with the manufacturer. Only an industrial park in the border town of Kaesong remains of the cooperation between the company and North Korea.

Yonhap said Hyun met with Kim Jong Il in 2005 and 2007, leading to landmark agreements on Hyundai's cross-border ventures.