August 16, 2009

Kim Jong Il meets Hyundai chairwoman

Ties between Hyundai Group and North Korea appear on the upswing after a meeting between the company's chairwoman and Kim Jong Il, analysts say.

The North Korean leader and Hyundai chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun met Sunday and had a friendly chat, the North's media reported, raising hopes among business and political analysts that Hyundai may be able to restore suspended business ties with Pyongyang, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

Hyun had come to North Korea on a mission to free a detained worker, but may have accomplished more than that, the news agency said.

Comrade Kim Jong Il met Hyundai Group chairwoman, and she presented a present to our leader, the North's Korean Central Broadcasting Station reported. Kim talked with the chairwoman in a good atmosphere.

Hyundai's business ventures with the North were suspended due to the worsening political situation with Seoul, and it now faces a dire financial picture, analysts say. The company has invested $1.2 billion in North Korea, but Seoul suspended Hyundai's tours to Mount Kumgang last year after a North Korean soldier shot and killed a South Korean tourist who strayed into a military zone in the area.