Tourism, peace, politics and ideology: Impacts of the Mt. Gumgang tour project in the Korean Peninsula

Seong Seop Kim, Bruce Prideaux

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


A number of researchers have postulated that tourism between nations that have been divided or remain hostile to each other may be a means of reducing tension and promoting peace. The Korean Peninsula has remained divided since the Korean War and tensions between the North and South remain high. In the first tangible attempt to develop meaningful relations between the North and South outside of the UN structure, the Hyundai Corporation of South Korea was given permission to build and operate a resort destination at Mt. Gumgang in North Korea. The project has not been well supported by South Korean tourists and has required significant financial assistance from the South Korean Government. The paper examines the background of the project, the issues that were the primary cause for low demand and the role of the project as a vehicle for promoting peace. The paper finds that while tourism may be a method of reducing political tension as suggested by Butler and Mao (Asia Pacific J. Tourism Res. 1(1) (1996) 25) and Yu (Asia Pacific J. Tourism Res. 2(1) (1997) 19), it may also have a darker side and inadvertently become a vehicle for inhibiting peace. Further the paper suggests that in the case of Mt. Gumgang, tourism is the consequence of a political process aimed at rapprochement, not the genesis of the process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-685
Number of pages11
JournalTourism Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • North Korea
  • Peace
  • Policy
  • Resort destination
  • South Korea
  • Tourism development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management

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