Archive for the ‘Mubong Special Zone for International Tour’ Category

North Korea Spurring Development of Various Special Tourist Zones

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2015-4-30

North Korea is expediting the development of various ‘Special Tourist Zones’. North Korea is diversifying its tour packages, and have designated Mt. Kumgang (Kumgangsan) and Mt. Paektu (Paektusan) as International Special Tourist Zones. A Special Tourist Zone on the riverside near the Amrok (Yalu) River Bridge is also under construction. This zone is designed to attract foreign tourists including Chinese tourists.

In addition, North Korea and China are pushing forward with the ‘Onsong-Tumen Border Culture and Tourism Cooperation Zone.’ This is intended to be a cooperation zone that integrates tourism, cultural performances, duty-free shopping and serves as a distribution center of tourism products for both countries.

North Korea has also revealed outlines of its plans for the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region and is pushing ahead with an on-site briefing session scheduled for May 2015. While North Korea repairs and expands the existing road network connecting each tourist site (focusing first on Wonsan), authorities have decided to construct a transportation network by establishing a high-speed railroad between Pyongyang and Wonsan, as well as opening passenger routes between Wonsan Harbor and Rason, and Wonsan Harbor and Vladivostok. They also plan to introduce a series of measures for attracting tourists, including a no-visa system, currently under consideration.

In addition, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has announced an era of full-fledged international tourism in Mt. Paektu. On April 23, 2015, KCNA revealed that the Mubong International Special Tourist Zone will be built in part of Samjiyon County’s Mubong Workers’ District near Mt. Paektu. The Mubong Workers’ District is 35km away from Mt. Paektu, 60km away from Samjiyon, and 70km away from Taehongdan. Thus, it is considered eligible for designation as a special district.

This location is considered to be relatively well-equipped with tourism infrastructure compared to other regions, and expected to perform favorably in attracting outside investment. KCNA reported that this region has a number of amenities and attractions as a Special Tourist Zone.

For example, two decades ago North Korea prepared to host the 1995 Asian Winter Games in Samjiyon until those preparations came to a halt. However, construction resumed in the 2000s, and since then North Korea has constructed a large-scale winter athlete’s village equipped with facilities such as a ski resort and ice rink. Also, Mubong lies in the middle of Samjiyon, Mt. Paektu, and Taehongdan. From Mubong one can go climb Mt. Paektu and view the entire Samjiyon area, or go to Taehongdan and see the large potato-growing districts.

Since the Kim Jong Il era, potato fields were planted in Taehongdan as a tourist attraction. In Mubong, North Korea built large-scale blueberry production complexes, which have become well-known for their blueberry wine. There are also customs offices in Ssangdubong, making the entry process for foreigners presumably less difficult.

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Mubong Special Zone for International Tourism

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Mubong-special-zone-google-earth

Pictured above (Google Earth): Mubong Special Zone for International Tour (무봉국제관광특구), AKA Mubong International Tourism Zone

UPDATE 3 (2016-7-11): KCNA reports the following on the Mubong Zone:

Development of Special Zone for International Tour Progresses Apace in DPRK

Big efforts have been channeled into developing Mubong area into a special zone for international tour in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In this regard, Kye Song Nam, vice-chairman of the Korea Economic Development Association, told KCNA:

The special zone for international tour of Mubong covers an area of 20 square kilometers. It will boast of hotels, a race track, golf course, hot water bathroom, shower bath place and vacationland.

A project for electricity supply system was already finished in the zone in cooperation with a foreign business.

Construction of all infrastructures will be completed in a few years.

Foreigners can carry on business activities solely in the special zone in conformity with the DPRK Law on Economic Development Parks.

The DPRK government has taken a measure to reduce land lease charge and business income tax for foreign businesses which invest in building infrastructures and make high-tech products in the special zone.

Many foreign businesses have already expressed their willingness to take part in developing the special zone for international tour of Mubong, he said.

UPDATE 2 (2016-6-23): The Pyongyang Times reports on involvement of Hong Kong firm at Mubong Tourism Zone:

Hong Kong business monopolizes tourism zone development

The Shengrun Investment Stock Co Ltd in Hong Kong, China, pushes ahead with the two projects for tourism in the Mt Paektu area and development of the Mubong International Tourism Special Zone.

The special zone covers nearly 20 square kilometres in the Mubong workers district, Samjiyon County, Ryanggang Province.

The county is home to a host of scenic attractions and revolutionary battle sites in Mt Paektu, namely Jongil Peak, Lake Samji, Rimyongsu and Mupho. Over 30 000 hectares of blueberry fields sprawl over the Mt Paektu and Mubong areas. Blueberry, a speciality of the Mt Paektu area, is the main ingredient of various drinks, sweet jelly and syrup and other food products.

The project for the international tourism special zone includes the construction of a comprehensive service network embracing hotel, restaurant, production bases and shops.

Shengrun undertakes the development project exclusively, enjoying benefits and favourable conditions guaranteed by the local law on EDZs and the rules on business management.

With the master plan for the zone development completed, it has finished the power grid project in the special zone and started infrastructure construction.

It started tourism in the Mt Paektu area on June 18.

Foreign tourists are to use a border bridge between the DPRK and China, airport in the Samjiyon area and railways.

Another promising investment destination is the Kalma area located in the Wonsan-Mt Kumgang International Tourist Zone in Kangwon Province on the coast of the East Sea of Korea.

By Cha Myong Chol PT

Here is a PDF of the Pyongyang Times article.

Here is coverage in NK News.

UPDATE 1 (2016-2-23): Radio Free Asia published imagery (from me) on new construction at the Mubong International Tourism Zone.

ORIGINAL POST (2015-4-23): According to KCNA:

The Mubong Special Zone for International Tour will be established in the DPRK.

A relevant decree was promulgated by the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK on Wednesday.

According to the decree, the special zone for international tour will cover some areas of the Mubong Workers’ District in Samjiyon County, Ryanggang Province.

The sovereignty of the DPRK will be exercised in the zone to which the DPRK Law on Economic Development Parks and its regulations concerning foreign investment will be applied.

Here is coverage in Xinhua.

Here is coverage in Yonhap:

North Korea said Thursday it has decided to establish a special tourist zone in a district near the peninsula’s highest peak, a move seen as intended to earn hard currency.

North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly on Wednesday promulgated a decree designating some areas of the Mubong workers’ district near Mount Baekdu as the Mubong Special Zone for International Tour, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The district, located in Samjiyon County, Ryanggang Province, is well positioned for a tourist zone as there are already lodging houses and other facilities located there. A military airport is also located near the county, raising accessibility to the district.

North Korea’s sovereignty will be exercised in the special tourist zone where the North’s laws and regulations on economic development zones and foreign investment will also apply, according to the KCNA.

The Mubong zone will be the second special zone for international tour in the North, along with a special zone at Mt. Kumgang, a scenic resort on the North’s east coast.

Experts said that the latest move is aimed at luring the dollar from foreign tourists by boosting tourism at Mt. Baekdu at a time when inter-Korean exchanges have been suspended since 2010 following a deadly warship sinking.

Near Mubong, the North Koreans built a border crossing sometime between 2009-6-19 and 2014-7-27, but it is unclear if this is to support the Mubong zone or tourism to Samjiyon more generally:

Mubong-border-2009 Mubong-border-2014

Read the full story here:
N. Korea creates special tour zone near Mt. Baekdu
Yonhap
2015-4-23

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