SEOUL, December 24. /TASS/. Fewer South Koreans are visiting North Korea amid tensions in inter-Korean relations, said a South Korean government report on Wednesday.
It said a record high of 186,400 South Korean nationals visited the North in 2008, but the figure dropped to 76,500 in 2013.
This decline is linked with a third nuclear test carried out by Pyongyang on February 12, 2013 and problems in the activity of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a joint inter-Korean economic project north of the demilitarized zone unilaterally closed by Pyongyang for several months last year.
Trips of South Koreans to the North across the demilitarized zone started in 1997 with just 136 visits, the number of which peaked in 2008.
The 2008 figure could have been higher, if trips had continued to Kymgansan (Diamond mountains), the Yonhap news agency writes. However, on July 11, 2008, a North Korean sentry gunned down a South Korean woman tourist who wandered into a military area at a mountain resort.
This incident brought to a halt tourist trips to the North that had not apologized and refused to carry out a joint investigation into the accident.
In 2009, 120,600 South Koreans visited the North, mainly those working at the Kaesong Industrial Complex and daily crossing the inter-Korean border.
Although the Kaesong joint project was restarted, specialists from the South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance’s statistics service believe the number of visits will not be growing for the time being.