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S. Korea unveils ideas on individual civilian trips to N. Korea Updated: 2020-01-21 07:02:42 KST

The past week has seen question marks over how South Korea might go ahead with allowing individual civilian trips to North Korea and on Monday, the government finally opened up about some ideas.
Seoul's Unification Ministry said the so-called "individual trips" would be for civilians who receive a legitimate invitation from North Korea via a non-profit organization or travel agency in a third country.
An "invitation" from the North could be confirmed through a visa, it said, if the regime decides to issue visas for South Koreans.
And tourists' safety will also have to be guaranteed through an official document.
There are three specific types of individual trips that the government deems possible.
One, families separated by the Korean War visiting North Korea's Gaeseong and Mount Geumgang,
Two, South Koreans visiting Pyeongyang and other resort areas like Wonsan, Kalma and Samjiyon,
And three, letting foreign tourists visit the North as well when they come to South Korea.

The South Korean government has not officially shared its ideas with the North yet and says it's reviewing how it should bring up the matter.

The Unification Ministry stresses that there's no reason private trips should be impossible.
Noting that the North is already visited by many tourists from China, Europe, and the U.S., the ministry explains that tours do not violate the international sanctions or the U.S. sanctions and are not subject to U.S. secondary boycotts either.

Seoul is hopeful that if private cross-border trips to become a reality, then they'll make room for inter-Korean relations to lead the denuclearization talks forward.
But for this to happen, security issues will have to be clearly resolved.
South Korean tours to the North's Mount Geumgang were suspended in 2008 after a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.
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