Sinuiju-River Amnok Tourist Zone of DPRK opened to visitors

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I noticed the construction of this area some time ago and reported it in 38 North last month. Now the North Koreans have told us something about it. According to KCNA (December 22):

Sinuiju-River Amnok Tourist Zone of DPRK Opened to Visitors

The Sinuiju-River Amnok tourist zone in the DPRK was opened to visitors with due ceremony on Sunday.

The zone, developed in the shore of the River Amnok jointly by the Korea Myohyangsan Travel Company and the Dandong International Travel Agency of China, has modern all-round service facilities.

Present at its opening ceremony were Ri Ung Chol, deputy director-general of the State General Bureau of Tourism, and other officials concerned of the DPRK and officials concerned and tourists from China.

An inauguration address and a congratulatory speech were made at the ceremony before cutting the tape for the completion of the tourist zone.

Then its participants went round the zone.

Here is some additional information from the Yonhap (2016-1-1):

Chinese media reports said the Chinese travel agency invested 50 million yuan ($7.6 billion) to build the facilities and construction begun in April last year.

The Chinese tourists arrived at the North Korean tourism zone on Wednesday, according to Chinese media reports.

The North Korean city of Sinuiju sits just the opposite of the Chinese border city of Dandong, where about 70 percent of bilateral trade between the allies is being conducted.

About 60,000 Chinese people are estimated to travel to North Korea via Dandong a year, with another 10,000 Chinese making tours to the North a year via Hunchun, according to Chinese industry estimates.

And according to the Choson Ilbo:

North Korea has opened a riverside passport-free, visa-free zone where Chinese tourists can shop duty-free has opened on the shore of the Apnok River in Sinuiju, China News Service reported Wednesday.

Visitors can stay for a day and also enjoy North Korean food and various performances, but they will have no access to the rest of the country.

The tourism zone sits at the point where a recently completed bridge crossing the Apnok River starts. “It was developed jointly by North Korean authorities and a travel agency in Dandong,” the news agency said.

It measures 130,000 sq.m and has cost 50 million yuan since construction began in April. It contains restaurants, duty-free shops, a theater and a cruise boat terminal.

It can accommodate up to 10,000 tourists at a time and a full tour can take up to five hours.

The passport-free rule is a huge departure for North Korea, which normally confiscates the passports of Chinese day visitors until they leave.

Instead they can get a travel pass by simply presenting their ID card. It is in theory issued the same day.

“The zone is an island-like area that has been built after part of the Apnok River shore on the side of Sinuiju was reclaimed,” a source in Dandong said. “It’s impossible for Chinese tourists to enter the North Korean mainland from there because soldiers block the road to Sinuiju.”

According to NK News:

Tour operator Young Pioneer Tours (YPT) told NK News the new zone was currently open to Chinese tourists who will not require a visa to cross into the DPRK when visiting the area.

“The tour will cost Chinese nationals 300RMB ($46) and that includes the return trip on the boat,” YPT guide Rowan Beard said.

“It’s just a typical little holiday zone that the Chinese visitors would enjoy. Shopping and food,” Beard said.

See this additional post on the Sinuiju International Economic Zone.

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