Archive for the ‘Tourism’ Category

Financial complex and upscale hotel construction presses ahead in Wonsan

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

To develop the ‘Wonsan-Mount Kumgang International Tourist Zone’, plans have been put in place to build a General Financial Complex and five-star hotel in Wonsan.

Naenara (My Country), a North Korean propaganda website that targets an international audience, indicated that the goal of ‘Wonsan’s Chungdong General Land Development’ Investment Proposal released September 1, 2016 was to “develop Wonsan into a commercial and cultural exchange center, as well as a center for trade and financial transactions.”

According to the proposal, the target of investment is the Chungdong district and parts of the Sangdong district of Wonsan (Kangwon province) with a total area of 300,000 square kilometers. The total amount to be invested was set at USD 196,560,000.

In addition, the proposal sets out plans to first construct ten separate buildings, including 10 units of rental housing, a three-star hotel, an international finance complex, a department store, an indoor gym, and a restaurant for world cuisine.

The proposal adds: “in the surrounding area (of the center), world-class facilities including an ultra-luxurious five-star hotel called the Wonsan Hotel, a General Financial Complex, a General Office Complex, an International Exhibit, and a library are to be constructed.”

It also makes clear that existing housing, commercial facilities, offices and factories in the area will be demolished.

With respect to international investors, the proposals envisage that development will utilize the BOT (Built-Operate-Transfer) method. BOT is a method of funding infrastructure projects in which a contractor is given the right to operate a set of facilities for a prescribed period in order to recover both the initial investment and a profit, before control of the facilities reverts to the contracting party.

The website states that “the Committee to Promote the Development of the Wonsan-Mount Kumgang International Tourism Zone was chosen for the spill-over effects for both the Wonsan area and the zone as a whole.”

Moreover, the separate ‘General Finance Center Proposal’ was also released via Naenara on the same day– the building is set to be 15 stories high, with additional two basement floors.

The complex has a total area of 1,500 square meters, the actual building area of 800 square meters, and total floor of 12,000 square meters. The building will play host to banks, office space and restaurants.

The proposal emphasized that “the development of the Wonsan-Mount Kumgang Tourist Zone into a world-class tourist site reflects the firm will of our party and government . . . . The future tourist zone will radiate the light as the ‘East’s Pearl’ transformed into a renowned tourist destination both in East Asia and more broadly the entire world.”

Here is the text from the Naenara article (PDF).

 

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North Korea training experts in special economic zones and development

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

North Korean universities have begun programs to train specialists in matters related to special economic zones (SEZs) and their development.

On August 1, 2016, the North Korean website Naenara (lit: ‘My Country’) revealed this, saying “One of the most important matters with respect to development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) is the training of a large number of specialists. Hence, the government of the republic [DPRK] has established and implemented an educational program that aims to train specialists in this field.”

According to the website, the training of specialists in the development of SEZs has begun at Kim Il Sung University, the University of the People’s Economy, and Jong Jun Taek University of Economics (also known as Wonsan University of Economics).

These universities have departments specializing in the management of SEZs, real estate, tourism, and international investment. The curricula are based upon the developmental experiences of Rason Economic Investment Zone, the Hwanggumpyong-Wihwado Economic Zones, along with the law, regulations, and the experience of other countries.

These departments train specialists on the economic principles and effects of special economic development zones, theories on the form zones take and how development occurs, as well as how developmental strategy is devised. They also deal with issues like the creation of comprehensive development plans, the designation of companies for participation in development projects, the conclusion of development-related contracts, the conferring of development rights, the conclusion of land-usage contracts, the sale of land usage rights and the operation of sub-structural operations, and management of investment by foreign companies.

Naenara’s post also indicated that “the government of the republic has organized the investigation of the success of other countries in the development of special economic zones, this is being undertaken by university staff and researchers. A number of the country’s universities, research institutions, persons of repute, and public forums are engaged in these tasks.”

It also underscored the aim of “in future, scientific research dealing with special economic zones (SEZs) should be deepened, and education programs strengthened. Moreover, multifaceted cooperation and exchanges should be expanded with all countries that respect the sovereignty of the country [DPRK].”

The North Korean magazine ‘Mount Kumgang’ — which targets a foreign audience — for the last two months has also printed a series entitled ‘Regarding plans to expand foreign investment relations’. The series publicizes the variety of government policies designed to attract investment.

In one of these pieces, Cho Chang Jun (a professor of the University of the People’s Economy) explains that “with the importance of our government’s efforts to expand and develop foreign investment relations lies a number of legal measures, implemented in a way that is stronger than ever before, and which give foreign investors in our country a guarantee, in the government’s name, for a return of the principal invested and the payment of profits.”

The Rason SEZ (Rason Economic and Trade Zone) was created in the 1990s. In 2013, SEZs were also announced in each of the country’s provinces. At present there are 26 SEZs in North Korea.

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Pyongyang Times: Tourism regulations in EDZ instituted

Monday, February 15th, 2016

According to the Pyongyang Times (2016-2-15):

Tourism regulations in EDZ instituted

The government has set new regulations to control tourism in the economic development zones.

Tourism regulations were adopted by decision No. 90 of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly on December 23 2015.

The regulations containing 32 articles in five chapters are applicable to EDZs established for tourism.

The DPRK citizens, overseas Koreans and foreigners can tour EDZs in various styles and methods including visit, sightseeing, vacation, amusement, sports, experiencing and medical treatment.

Personal safety, human rights and property of tourists in EDZs are protected by the law of the DPRK.

Management of tourism is undertaken by the managing authorities of EDZs.

The zones encourage planned development and protection of tourism resources such as scenic attractions, historic relics and remains and natural monuments.

Investors can invest, establish and run businesses in such fields of travel, lodging, restaurant, amusement, welfare services, production and sale of souvenirs and development of tourism resources in the zones with the approval of the management authorities of EDZs.

In case of establishing a travel company in the zones, license of the central tourism guidance organ should be gained through the management authorities. After receiving the license, the travel company should register its business with the management authorities and receive business registration certificate.

When an investor wants to set up and run a tourism service business in EDZs, he or she should obtain the approval of the management authorities following relevant regulations.

Tourists who want to travel EDZs should apply for tourism directly or via local and foreign travel companies outside relevant EDZs.

Anyone, who did any harm to personal safety, health and property of tourists, failed to provide proper service obliged by contracts, destroyed tourism resources or caused any damage to businesses and individuals, bears such civil liabilities as to restore them to their original state, or pay compensation, penalty and arrears.

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DPRK tourism revenue estimates

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

According to Yonhap:

North Korea earned tens of millions of dollars from foreign tourists in 2014, around half of the hard currency it won from the lucrative inter-Korean industrial park, a researcher said Sunday.

North Korea’s income from foreign tourists is estimated at US$30.6 million to $43.6 million last year, considering about 95,000 Chinese tourists and 5,000 tourists from Western countries visited the country, Yoon In-ju of the Korea Maritime Institute said in a paper.

North Korea’s annual income from the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North’s border town of Kaesong, accommodating 124 South Korean firms that employ more than 50,000 North Korean workers, reached $86 million in 2014.

North Korea has launched a drive to woo foreign tourists since leader Kim Jong-un assumed power in 2011 by introducing a variety of tour packages that give participants sports, military and labor experiences.

North Korea, however, lacks enough infrastructure, such as transportation and lodgings, to attract foreign tourists, Yoon said, adding the North’s policy of allowing only group tours and limiting tourist destinations also serve as obstacles to foreigners investing in infrastructure, as well as tourists.

I have not read the report, and have been unable to find a copy in English, but I want to highlight that there is a difference in the kind of revenue that is earn from tourism versus from the KIC.

The KIC earns $US in cash, which are delivered from the South Koreans to the North Korean government. Because South Koreans cover all the expenses in the KIC, the DPRK government’s gross take effectively equals net take (100% of proceeds). However with tourism, gross take  is not what the government actually receives. Tour operators take a cut, KITC takes a cut, guides take a cut, restaurants and hotels take a cut. Local governments take a cut. Of course how the average tourist dollar is divided up remains a mystery, but it is not anywhere near the government’s 100% share that the KIC draws.

This distinction may have been addressed in the paper, but the Yonhap report did not make that clear.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea’s income from tourism half of that from Kaesong complex
Yonhap
2015-11-1

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DPRK visitors to China drops in H1 2015

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

According to the Daily NK:

The number of North Koreans who visited China through legal means has dipped this year.

Data on the number of foreigners who went to China in the first half of this year indicate roughly 89,700 North Koreans crossed into the country, according to figures from China’s National Tourist Office cited by the Voice of America [VOA] on Wednesday.

This a 2.2 percent drop from the 91,800 visitors who were there during the same period last year, indicating the numbers are heading toward a two-year decline, it reported.

The figures from this report are only limited to those who visit through legal means and do not reflect illicit trips or defectors who enter the country.

Roughly 52 percent of North Koreans traveling to China reportedly went looking for jobs at restaurants or factories. The number of job-seekers inched up by 3,300 on-year, according to the VOA.

Men outweighed the number of women from the North, making up roughly 85 percent at 76,500. Only 13,200 were female visitors.

The total number of foreigners who went to China in the first six months of the year was at roughly 12.3 million. The greatest number of travelers came from South Korea at slightly over 2.1 million, while North Korea placed 20th on the list.

Read the full story here:
N. Koreans on visas to China drops
Da
Lee Dong Hyuk
2015-8-20

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Sports tourism business active in North Korea

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

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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Yanji – DPRK charter flight resumes

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

According to Xinhua:

An oft-suspended tourist route between China and North Korea has been reopened after its latest closure.

A charter flight carrying 73 tourists left from Yanji, in the Korean autonomous prefecture of Yanbian in northeast China’s Jilin province, for Pyongyang in North Korea on Thursday.

The route will be open until early October, with a planned 32 charter flights on Thursdays and Sundays. All seats on the flights in June have been booked, according to Yanbian Tianyu Travel Agency, which runs the route with North Korea’s Air Koryo.

A four-day trip costs 3,980 yuan (US$650) per person while a five-day trip costs 4,480 yuan (US$720) per person, according to the agency.

The route between Yanji and Pyongyang was first opened in July 2012, but it was closed for the whole of 2013 due to tensions in North Korea. It resumed on June 29 last year and was suspended again in October. A total of 90 flights had been completed on the route by October.

Read the full story here:
Yanbian-Pyongyang tourist route reopens
Xinhua
2015-6-21

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‘Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region’ investment briefing

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

UPDATE 6 (2015-7-23):  KCNA issues another report on the Wonsan – Mt. Kumgang Tourist Zone:

The DPRK’s project for developing the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang international tourist zone (ITZ) is attracting deeper international attention as the days go by.

In this regard, O Ung Gil, vice-chairman of the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang ITZ Development Committee, told KCNA:

After the briefing on investment in the tourist zone held in Mt. Kumgang in May, the number of foreign companies and investors, who are willing to take part in the project, is on the increase.

Many companies in Asian and European countries showed a disposition to cooperate with the DPRK in the fields of designing, IT, building materials, foodstuffs, passenger service and so on. Some of them have already made contracts.

Many businessmen are hoping for the briefing on investment in the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang ITZ to be held on a larger scale.

The construction for turning the Wonsan area into a world famous tourist destination, a model of city formation is being pushed forward. And a large number of local and foreign tourists have continued to visit the Mt. Kumgang area.

It has been also expected to let tourists enjoy various forms of tourism like mountain marathon and cycling.

The DPRK government has taken a series of measures to offer such preferences as recommending favorable projects ahead of others and discounting land rent to investors, who will agree upon the terms of advance investment and deferred compensation or the method of comprehensive development of land not later than 2017.

UPDATE 5 (2015-6-4): Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) has issued a report on the conference. ‘Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region’ investment briefing held

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the ‘Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region’ investment briefing was held at Mt. Kumgang on May 27, 2015.

According to the news agency, various parties were in attendance at the meeting, including embassy officials, the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region Development Committee Chairman Yun Yong Sok, and a number of Chinese companies including the Dalian Branch of the World Overseas Korean International Trade Association, China’s Onyongbuksadal Group, Ltd., the Liaoning Province Hubei Store, the Liaoning Northeast Asia Association for Promoting Economic Culture, and China’s Hong Kong Global Industry Investment Group.

At the meeting Chairman Yun Yong Sok revealed, “In order to develop the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region in a short period of time, the government is creating a prospective overall plan and completing detailed plans by district accordingly.” He also explained, “Before long this region will be transformed into a world-wide tourist hub and a sphere of economic cultural exchange.”

Regarding the briefing, Hong Kong Global Industry Investment Group, Ltd. manager Ho Tung remarked, “We found out about the impressive results they are achieving in economic growth and improving the people’s quality of life […] By cooperating with world-renowned investors, Mt. Kumgang will become a global tourist destination in the future.”

A video introducing the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region was screened at the briefing, and various topics were discussed including ‘Regarding the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region Development Prospects,’ ‘Regarding the Mt. Kumgang International Special Tourist Zone Prospects,’ ‘Regarding the Legal Environment of the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region,’ and ‘Regarding the Lake Sijung Area Development Prospects.’

According to the KCNA, “The briefing, which captured the interest of overseas Korean businessmen and investors and professionals from various countries, served as an important opportunity to provide investment opportunities and deepen understanding regarding the development prospects of the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region.”

The briefing session started on May 25, 2015 and lasted for six days on-site at Mt. Kumgang. Throughout the event participants toured the areas of Haegumgang, Kuryongyon, and Samilpo and also attended a business conference. Authorities used the ‘18th Pyongyang Spring International Product Exhibition’ on May 11, 2015 as an opportunity to also hold this investment briefing on the development of the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region.

Prior to the briefing, O Ung Gil, general manager of the Wonsan Area Development Corporation, spoke about the upcoming event: “At the investment briefing, topics such as the favorability of the development zone (which has abundant tourist attractions), the legal environment, its current state, and the overall development plan will be revealed. […] All entrepreneurs and businessmen who have an interest in development in the region are welcome to attend.”

This tourist region was announced as a central-level ‘economic development zone’ (EDZ) on June 11, 2014 by ordinance of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly. It is part of the large-scale tourism belt that includes Wonsan district, the Masikryong Ski Resort, Ullim Falls, and the Sogwansa, Tongchon and Mt. Kumgang districts. In his 2015 New Year’s address, Kim Jong Un proclaimed to the people, “We need to multilaterally develop foreign economic relations and actively push forward the development of economic development zones like the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region.”

UPDATE 4 (2015-6-3): The North Koreans produced this video of the event.

UPDATE 3 (2015-5-30): KCNA reports on some of the other participants leaving the event:

Foreign delegations left here on Saturday after taking part in the 2015 seminar on investment in Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang international tourist zone.

They included a delegation of the Dalian Branch of the World Trade Association of Overseas Koreans, a delegation of the Chinese Liaoning Beisida Group Co. Ltd., a delegation of the Chinese Liaoning Provincial Hubei Commerce Chamber and a delegation of the Liaoning Northeast Asia Society for Promoting Economy and Culture.

UPDATE 2 (2015-5-27): KCNA reports (again) on the briefing:

The 2015 Seminar on Investment in Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone took place in the Mt. Kumgang, on Wednesday.

Present at the briefing were members of the Committee for the Promotion of Development of Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone including its Chairman Yun Yong Sok, a delegation of the Dalian Branch of the World Trade Association of Overseas Koreans, a delegation of the Chinese Liaoning Beisida Group Co. Ltd., a delegation of the Chinese Liaoning Provincial Hubei Commerce Chamber, a delegation of the Liaoning Northeast Asia Society for Promoting Economy and Culture and a delegation of the Global Businessmen’s Group Co. Ltd. for Investment of Hong Kong, China, Swedish and other foreign guests and foreign embassy officials here.

Congratulatory speeches were made there.

Yun Yong Sok said that the DPRK government worked out a long-term master plan for developing the tourist zone in a brief span of time and is in the process of rounding off detailed plans for different areas. This zone will turn into a world tourist destination and a hub for economic and cultural exchanges before long, he added.

The general manager of the Global Businessmen’s Group Co. Ltd. for Investment of Hong Kong, China said that staying in the DPRK, he clearly learned that the Korean people have achieved successes in developing economy and improving the people’s living standard.

He expressed the belief that Mt. Kumgang will be developed into a world famous tourist destination thanks to the cooperation of famous investors of the world.

The participants watched a video introducing the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone and listened to speeches introducing it.

UPDATE 1 (2015-5-27): KCNA reports on the briefing:

The 2015 Seminar on Investment in Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone took place at the Mt. Kumgang on May 27.

The seminar briefed on a plan for the development of tourist zone, its geographical conditions and legal guarantee for investment.

Ho Ji Hwan, head of the Yantai Branch of the World Trade Association of Overseas Koreans, told KCNA:

The scenery of the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang international tourist zone is very beautiful. The investment in this zone will bring about good results. And it is expected to be a promising tourist destination. I know that there are some projects for its development and, therefore, will make a positive cooperation in materializing them.

Michael P. Spavor, consultant of the Paektu Culture Exchange in Britain, said:

The environment and conditions in the zone are great to be one of international tourist destinations. I looked round the Masikryong Ski Resort and Songdowon beach which are very excellent.

I am willing to take part in the work for attracting investment.

The Paektu Cultural Exchange website is here. Here is the Facebook Page.

ORIGINAL POST (2015-5-26): KCNA reports that foreign delegations have arrived to participate in the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region investment briefing:

Foreign delegations arrived here on Monday to take part in the 2015 briefing on investment in Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang international tourist zone.

They included a delegation of the Dalian Branch of the World Trade Association of Overseas Koreans, a delegation of the Chinese Liaoning Beisida Group Co. Ltd., a delegation of the Chinese Liaoning Provincial Hubei Commerce Chamber, a delegation of the Liaoning Northeast Asia Society for Promoting Economy and Culture and a delegation of the Global Businessmen’s Group Co. Ltd. for Investment of Hong Kong, China.

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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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