Ministry knew of N Koreans’ visit: foreign minister

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Oct 18, 2012 - Page 3

Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) yesterday denied an allegation that the ministry did not know about a recent visit by officials from North Korea.

“We did receive the information regarding their visit,” Lin said in response to media inquiries after a report by the Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday said the ministry had no prior knowledge of the visit.

Ministry spokesman Steve Hsia (夏季昌) yesterday confirmed that three North Korean officials, led by North Korean Tourism Department bureau head Jo Sung-gyu, were recently in Taiwan on a non-official visit.

Hsia said the group came at the invitation of local travel agencies to discuss ways to boost the North’s tourism industry. They had no contact with Taiwanese officials, he said.

According to Hsia, the trio filed visa applications at the Taipei Representative Office in Singapore, which were approved.

The ministry’s overseas staffers are required to report to the ministry any visa application made by an individual from specific countries deemed “unfriendly to us,” including North Korea, a source at the ministry said.

Hsia said the office in Singapore did inform the ministry of the visit, but there was a delay in sending all the information to the ministry.

The host of the group, South East Travel Service Co vice general manager Liao Pei-yan (廖培沅), said the purpose of the visit by Jo, who is also head of the state-owned Korea International Travel Co, was to promote tourism and he wished that his company could offer tours to North Korea on charter flights during the Arirang festival or other main festivals in that country.