South Korean industrial conglomerate Daewoo Group has chosen Yanji, the capital of Yanbian, to build the first hotel to carry its name. The US$30 million Yanbian Daewoo Hotel - Yanbian's only five-star hotel and Jilin's third such hotel - was one of the biggest commitments by foreign investors in the region last year. Changchun, Jilin's capital, houses the province's two other five-star hotels. Hotel general manager Kwon Hyouk-jung said: 'This area is very far and underdeveloped. But it has great potential in investment. 'It is an ideal base camp to accommodate tourists and businessmen visiting this place, in particular those from South Korea.' South Korean investors have been attracted by Yanbian's location as the gateway to neighbouring North Korea and Russia. Seoul discourages direct investment in North Korea. 'South Koreans have great ideas for investing in this place. It is definitely the place to develop industries in the future,' Mr Kwon said. Interest in the area has been stimulated by the US$30 billion United Nations-sponsored Tumen River Area Development Programme to build a northeastern economic bloc among China, North Korea and Russia. 'North Korea is going to open its borders to neighbouring countries,' Mr Kwon said, referring to the country's nearby Rajin free trade zone. 'China shall need the port, and it is interested in this area,' he said. 'Russia wants to have an all-weather harbour, while North Korea is going to open this area, too. We are optimistic about this development.' Already Yanbian has attracted investment from a number of South Korean companies. The list includes The First, a food and sugar processor that is a member of the Samsung Group. Korean Electric Power Co, a South Korean government power company, had completed the signing of the management contract for a Sino-foreign power station in Yanji, Mr Kwon said. Also moving into Yanbian is the Hyundai Group. Hyundai Pipe Manufacturing Co set up operations in the Hunchun Border Economic Co-operation Zone in April of last year. Hyundai Pipe production chief Zhao Yongzhi said the company had invested in Yanbian because of high hopes for the Tumen River programme. Mr Kwon said Daewoo built the hotel in Yanji because Yanbian was difficult to access. 'Tourists and businessmen visiting other parts of Yanbian have to go from China through the capital Yanji and they'll stay here for one to two days,' he said. South Koreans are also attracted by Yanbian's legendary Changbian Mountain. 'Most of the South Korean people like to go to Changbian Mountain for holidays. There is a common belief among South Koreans that their ancestors came from Tianchi [Heavenly Lake] on the Mountain,' he said. Daewoo has been running hotels in cities such as Beijing, Guilin and Xian under management contracts with international hotel groups including Sheraton and Hilton. It also has car and equipment manufacturing operations in other parts of China. Mr Kwon said the company would change the names of hotels it operated to Daewoo Hotel as the management contracts expired. Opened in June of last year, the 263-room Daewoo Hotel is subject to high volatility due to seasonal factors. 'The occupancy rates could reach 100 per cent in the three months June, July and August with the current rate standing at 20 to 30 per cent,' he said. By all accounts, Daewoo has given a strong vote of confidence to Yanbian and its bid to become the focal point of the golden business triangle that will be formed by China, North Korea and Russia.