Archive for the ‘Tourism’ Category

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
Lee Dong Hyuk


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.


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


‘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.


North Korea Spurring Development of Various Special Tourist Zones

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

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.


DPRK announces Mubong Special Zone for International Tour [sic]

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015



Pictured above (Google Earth): Mubong Special Zone for International Tour

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


Chinese car tours to DPRK continue following Ebola quarantine

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

According to Yonhap:

A Chinese border city has offered its first driving tour to North Korea since the North lifted travel restrictions it imposed due to concerns over the Ebola virus, according to a local media report on Monday.

The report was the latest sign that North Korea has approved more cross-border tours for Chinese nationals after lifting the travel restrictions about a month ago.

A group of 11 Chinese tourists drove their cars across the border from the Chinese city of Hunchun to North Korea’s northeastern coast port of Rajin on April 6, the Yanbian Daily newspaper reported, citing an unnamed tour guide who led the Chinese tour group.

The Chinese tourists gave “favorable comments” about the three-day trip as North Korea provided them with almost hassle-free visas, the report said.

In October, North Korea banned foreign tourists from visiting the isolated country and imposed a strict 21-day quarantine on all people, including diplomats, entering the country.

Meanwhile, North Korea hosted an international marathon race on Sunday, drawing about 650 foreign runners from more than 30 countries, China’s Xinhua news agency reported from a dispatch from Pyongyang.

Read the full story here:
China offers 1st driving tour to N. Korea after Ebola ban


KCNA: Business success in store for foreign investors

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

According to the article:

A project to set up economic development parks has been steadily pushed forward in different parts of the DPRK, drawing attention of many foreign investors, says Ri Sun Hak, a department director of the Ministry of External Economic Relations.

He said the DPRK government has made all its efforts to create a legal environment favorable for the rights and interests of foreign investors.

The government encourages them to invest in the country on the principle of equality and mutual benefits, he said, and continued:

A series of laws on foreign investment, including the DPRK Law on Foreign Investment and the Law on Economic Development Parks, has been newly enacted, amended and supplemented to provide foreign investors with legal guarantee.

The DPRK government has already made the agreement on promotion and protection of mutual investment with 28 countries and agreement on prevention of double taxation with 13 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.

Rules and detailed regulations have been adopted one after another to introduce internationally recognized investment formulas in keeping with the actual circumstances of the country.

Now the DPRK government has been carried forward the cooperation with Russian companies in the fields of railway transportation and harbor express service, while establishing economic development parks and paying deep attention to different projects of cooperation with other countries in the field of investment.

Tourism is also gaining momentum with the development of Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang and Mt. Chilbo areas into fashionable tourist attractions.


Hyundai Asan losses in the DPRK

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

According to Yonhap:

Hyundai Asan Corp., the company that pioneered inter-Korean commercial ties, said Tuesday that its loss from the suspension of its North Korea tour programs is estimated at nearly 1 trillion won (US$909 million) over the past six years.

The company said on the eve of the 16th anniversary of starting the tours to Mount Kumgang on North Korea’s east coast that it has also been forced to reduce its workforce by up to 73 percent.

Before visits were stopped, the company employed 1,084 people to handle tours to Mount Kumgang and the city of Kaesong, but the staff has been slashed to just 285. Kaesong was the capital of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392).

The estimate is based on the assumption that some 300,000 tourists would have visited the scenic mountain and seaside resort on an annual basis if the ban was not placed. For Kaesong, Hyundai Asan said the loss in earnings was calculated on the premise that some 100,000 people would have visited the city per year.

Seoul banned all tourists from visiting the isolated country after a North Korean guard shot a South Korean visitor dead in July 2008 at Mount Kumgang. South Korea said the North must formally apologize for the mishap and assure that the tragedy will not occur in the future.

Tourists first started visiting the mountains in November 1998 and by 2008, over 1.93 million made the trip to the North.

“The halt in tourism to the mountain resort has cost the company 809.4 billion won, while losses brought on by a ban on tourism to the ancient city of Kaesong on the west coast, has ballooned to 125.2 billion won with the total reaching 934.7 billion won,” the company said. They added that if tours do not resume soon, the loss in earnings will reach the 1 trillion won mark.

The halt in tourism is particularly painful because the company, part of the larger Hyundai Group, invested 226.8 billion won in various facility investments and US$486.69 million to acquire land and operational rights from Pyongyang.

Hyundai Asan said that despite troubles, it has a plan in place that can restart tours in two months, with its top executives still hoping that cross-border relations will improve so operations can resume.

Read the full story here:
Hyundai Asan faces 1 tln won loss on N. Korea tour suspension


Air Koryo timetable

Monday, November 17th, 2014

From October 28, 2014-March 28, 2015: