updated 8/16/2009 11:27:42 AM ET 2009-08-16T15:27:42

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il met the head of South Korea's Hyundai Group, the North's state media reported Sunday, days after the communist country released a Hyundai worker who had been held there for months.

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Kim and Hyun Jung-eun, Hyundai's chairwoman, had a "cordial talk," the Korean Central News Agency said in a brief dispatch from Pyongyang which provided few details. It did not specify when the talks took place, though they were likely held Sunday since Hyun had extended her stay in the North for an additional day, the fifth time since arriving in Pyongyang last Monday.

Hyun traveled to North Korea's capital to seek the release of the Hyundai worker as well as discuss joint projects the business group has pursued in the North that have stalled amid sharply higher inter-Korean tensions.

North Korea on Thursday deported Yoo Seong-jin, a 44-year-old Hyundai Asan technician who worked at a joint industrial zone in the North where about 110 South Korean-run factories employ about 40,000 North Korean workers. Yoo had been held for allegedly denouncing the North's government and attempting to persuade a North Korean worker to defect.

His detention became a major sticking point between the two Koreas. North Korea still holds four South Korean fishermen it detained earlier this month after their boat strayed into its waters.

Hyun traveled to the North just days after it released jailed American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling to former President Bill Clinton.

Hyundai Asan has spearheaded South Korea's business engagement with North Korea, but has seen two key tour ventures in the North come to a halt and has watched as the North demanded higher rent and salaries for workers at the industrial zone, calling its future into question.

KCNA said Hyun presented Kim with a gift.

"Kim Jong Il expressed thanks for this and had a cordial talk with her in an atmosphere of compatriotic feelings, remembering the predecessors of the Hyundai Group with deep emotion," the report said.

Chung Ju-yung, the late Hyundai Group founder and Hyun's father-in-law, pushed aggressively for closer business ties with North Korea beginning in the late 1990s.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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