DPRK bringing domestic and Chinese tourists to Kumgang

Pictured above: North Korean visitors to Kumgangsan wave to the camera in this video posted to Uriminzokkiri’s YouTube page.  The Video is dated 2011-8-20.

According to the Donga Ilbo:

North Korea has reportedly opened the Mount Kumgang resort to its nationals since April after having allowed only a select few to visit the scenic area before with permission.

Pyongyang apparently intends to pressure Seoul by opening the door to the mountain to the North Korean people after failing to attract foreign investment and tourists to the resort.

A Chinese source on North Korea said Tuesday, “North Korea effectively allowed all North Koreans from April to visit the entire Mount Kumgang area, including major rivers in the region.”

North Korea, however, allows only group tourists and not individual visits. North Korean authorities have ordered companies and businesses to visit the site for company picnics or events, and the mountain has 4,000 to 5,000 visitors per month.

A business unit that wants to visit files an application with the provincial government, which then reports to the international tourist authorities of Mount Kumgang. After screening candidates, authorities issue a tourist certificate that allows holders to pass checkpoints on the way to the mountain.

Two days are generally needed to travel the region, and visitors use the accommodation facility called Kumgangsan that can handle 500 people per day. The source said rooms are in short supply because of many visitors.

Each visitor should cover his or her own expenses. The estimated cost is around 1,700 North Korean won (1.43 U.S. dollars) for entry and 19 cents per night, so the combined expense amount is 2,500 to 3,000 North Korean won (2.10 to 2.53 dollars).

The source said, “The expenses almost equal a month`s salary but the popularity (of going to Mount Kumgang) has surprised everyone.”

Speculation is rising over whether the North will use South Korean real estate and equipment belonging to Hyundai Asan Corp., the South Korean operator of the tour, and others. Pyongyang announced Monday that it will dispose of South Korean assets and properties in the resort area.

“North Korea has not yet used any South Korean facilities but has apparently used them for local tourists,” the source said.

Also, according to KCNA, at least one Chinese tour group has visited the resort since July 30:

Pyongyang, July 30 (KCNA) — A Chinese tourist group led by Zhuang Jun, general manager of the Chinese Kanghui Xi’an International Tourist Agency, visited the Tower of the Juche Idea, Party Founding Memorial Tower, Pyongyang Students and Children’s Palace and Mangyongdae, President Kim Il Sung’s native place, in Pyongyang on Friday and Saturday.

The tourist group came to Pyongyang by the Pyongyang-Xi’an international air service.

Yang Rui, manager of the agency, told KCNA:

I was pleased to see an excellent performance of Korean schoolchildren. I hope they will perform in Xi’an. I have long looked forward to visiting Mt. Kumgang. In the afternoon we are leaving for the mountain. I will be happy to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the mountain.

Read about the continuing troubles at Kumgang from the shooting to the present day here.

Read the full story here:
N.Korea allowed its people to visit Mount Kumgang from April
Donga Ilbo
2011-8-24

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