Sports tourism business active in North Korea

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

North Korea’s Choson International Tourism Agency [AKA Korea International Tourism Company (KITC)] is receiving favorable reviews from tourists for its hospitable services and various tourism offerings (mainly sports tourism), the Choson Sinbo reported on August 5, 2015.

According to the Japan-based newspaper, the travel agency is building ties with Asian and European travel agencies and is satisfying the demands of numerous tourists who want to see North Korea’s famous sites in person.

The agency’s vice-president, Choi Dong Un, revealed in a press conference with the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), “We are currently organizing a variety of services, including sports activities like marathons, hiking, golf, bowling, shooting, swimming, skiing, and bicycle tours, as well as opportunities to view domestic and international sporting events.”

In particular, “Tourists enjoy experiencing the customs of the Choson people, such as pounding dduk [Korean rice cake] or making kimchi or noodles,” the newspaper highlighted.

“The travel agency is also actively working with tourists who are interested in investing in tourist attractions or hotel development and tourism infrastructure, helping them meet with the relevant companies and agencies and arranging visits to the site,” the Choson Sinbo added.

The Choson International Tourism Agency was established in January 1997. One of North Korea’s big travel agencies, it is headquartered in Pyongyang’s Mangyongdae District.

Meanwhile, Experience North Korea, an online travel agency based in Shanghai, China, offers tourists the opportunity to participate in the marathon held at North Korea’s Masikryong Ski Resort in Wonsan. Tourists interested in this experience can choose from several tourism packages this year. They can depart from Shanghai on October 2, 2015 and spend either three days and two nights or seven days and six nights in the country; likewise, they can choose a four-day, three-night package that departs from Beijing on the same day.

With statements like, “Discover North Korea’s beauty and breathe its fresh air while running in the slopes of Masikryong Ski Resort,” the company’s website tries to lure tourists. According to the website, four different courses are offered: a 5 km course, 10 km course, half marathon, and full marathon.

The construction of the Masikryong Ski Resort was a project of special interest to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Its doors were opened on January 1, 2014.

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