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South Korea safe travel spot despite threat from north: official

2012/04/30 19:39:53

Taipei, April 30 (CNA) Tourism in South Korea has been unaffected by mounting threats from Pyongyang, a South Korean official said Monday after new direct flight services between the country and Taiwan were launched.

Charm Lee, president of the Korea Tourism Organization, said South Korea remains a safe travel destination, and he encouraged Taiwanese to fly the new route linking the city airports of Taipei (Taipei International Airport) and Seoul (Gimpo International Airport) to explore the country.

The air link is expected to expand solid travel exchanges between the two sides, he said, despite North Korea's saber-rattling.

"North Korea has been using hostile rhetoric against us for 50 years, but we remain safe," Lee said.

Lee added that because South Korea has plenty of travelers from China -- a country the North "cannot afford to offend" -- travel safety is assured.

Pyongyang said last week it will soon conduct "special actions" that would reduce its southern rival to ashes within minutes.

The North's state-run Korean Central News Agency announced April 23 that its force "will reduce all the rat-like groups and the bases for provocations to ashes in three or four minutes, in much shorter time, by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style.”

Nevertheless, Lee said he was confident that South Korea tourism would continue to thrive after foreign visitor arrivals in the country rose 23 percent year-on-year during the first quarter.

He said travel exchanges between Taiwan and South Korea have also been on the rise, with some 200,000 visits between the two recorded in the same period, about 35 percent higher than last year.

"By the end of 2012, the Taipei-Gimpo route alone could bring Taiwan and South Korea an additional 68,000 travelers," he said. "It's a win-win scenario for both sides."

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)