Archive for the ‘Tourism’ Category

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.

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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
Yonhap
2014-11-18

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Air Koryo timetable

Monday, November 17th, 2014

From October 28, 2014-March 28, 2015:

Air-koryo-schedule-2014-2015

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DPRK to open Tongrim to Chinese/other tourists

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

New-tongrim-Hotel-2014-10-16

Pictured Above (Google Earth): The new Tongrim Waterfall hotel

UPDATE 2 (2014-11-11): Koryo Tours announces that westerners will be able to visit Tongrim as well:

For anyone looking for an exciting opportunity to travel in one of the least-seen parts of the least-seen nation in the world Koryo Tours is proud to offer the option to visit the city of Sinuiju, and take a drive down to the city of Dongrim – newly open to western tourists after years of our hard work pushing for access.

We have two options available for tours to this area; a day trip from the Chinese border city of Dandong, or an overnight extension to one of our regular DPRK trips as an extension to any tour that leaves the country by train – both on group and independent tours.

These areas were opened to western tourists due to the hard work of Koryo Tours’ staff in negotiating with the local and national authorities in the DPRK for access to these areas – know that if you join one of these trips, or any of our tours, you’re travelling with the company that made it all possible, we’d be glad to have you along with us!

You can now visit Sinuiju, Dongrim, and stay overnight either if you finish your tour in the DPRK by train travelling from Pyongyang up to Sinuiju on the Chinese border – this is a 24 hour extension that offers a great way to see some sites in North Pyongan province; a rarely seen part of North Korea.

UPDATE 1 (2014-10-16): DPRK opens Tongnim-jun to Chinese tourists. According to the Global Times:

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) opened its city of Tongnim-jun to Chinese tourists on Thursday, in the latest sign of the reclusive country developing its tourism sector.

Tongnim-jun is in Sinuiju, an area which borders northeast China’s Liaoning Province.

Under an agreement signed by tourist agencies of the two countries, Chinese group tourists can visit Tongnim-jun for two days from Dandong City in Liaoning.

The Dandong branch of the China International Travel Service has built a four-star hotel in the area with an investment of 30 million yuan (4.88 million US dollars).

Chinese group tourists can visit a number of DPRK cities, including its capital Pyongyang, Rason, Namyang, Chongjin and Mount Kumgang, by bus or by train.

The two countries are considering opening self-drive tours for Chinese tourists from Dandong, according to You Zejun, head of the municipal tourism commission.

The DPRK is working to develop its burgeoning tourism sector. It has approved several new travel programs and simplified entry applications to woo Chinese tourists.

In April, a train service from Ji’an City of Jilin Province was launched to link with Pyongyang, Kaesong and Panmunjom in the DPRK, making it the second city after Dandong with such services.

ORIGINAL POST (2013-1-11): According to Sina English:

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said it will open a village famous for a scenic waterfall in the northern part of the country to Chinese tourists from July.

The report by the China News Service said the tourist department of China’s Dandong city government will begin a two-day travel program on the route linking the Chinese city of Dandong to the North’s Donglim County, about 40 kilometers southeast of the border city of Sinuiju.

The news outlet said the Chinese travel department has been operating a one-day Dandong-Sinuiju travel route.
A four-star hotel is under construction as well as other amenities for travelers in the DPRK village in the North Pyongang Province, according to the report.

The village is most famous for its Donglim waterfall, a popular tourism location. The area near the waterfall is also well known for its scenic landscape.

The media report added that when the North opens the route in July, about 100 tourists will likely sign up for the tour program every day, whose two-day itinerary will cost about 1,000 Chinese yuan (US$160.9).

China’s tourist industry estimated that about 10,000 Chinese people visited the North on the Dandong-Sinuiju tour program in 2012.

Read the full story here:
DPRK to open waterfall village to Chinese tourists
Sina English
2013-1-11

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Tourism opens in North Phyongan Province’s Chongsu Tourist Development Zone

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

The opening ceremony for the Chongsu Tourist Development Zone, an area designated as one of North Korea’s economic development zones (EDZ), took place on October 30, 2014.

According to a report on October 31 by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the Chongsu Tourist Development Zone is an EDZ which was developed under the July 23, 2014 decree of the Standing Committee of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly, and covers nearly 3,800 hectares in various parts of Pangsan-ri and the Chongsong Workers’ District in Sakju County, North Phyongan Province.

It was reported that the Chongsu Tourist Development Zone was opened through cooperation between North Korea’s North Phyongan Provincial People’s Committee and China’s Liaoning Province, Dandong City People’s Government, and Dandong Overseas Travel Co. Ltd.

In an interview with the KCNA, Kwak Jin Ho, director of the North Phyongan Provincial People’s Committee’s Department for Economic Zone Development, said about the development prospects of the Chongsu tourist zone: “This area will be developed into a tourist zone equipped with modern tourism and service facilities while also highlighting the distinct characteristics of Korean folklore.”

Director Kwak also stated, “The zone’s infrastructure, public facilities and tourist service facilities will all be built to meet modern standards. Currently there are plans to construct factories for special product manufacturing, as well as areas for livestock, orchards and fisheries. With these targets, there are also plans for a cultural recreation district, Korean folk village, general services area, Korean folk hotel, as well as processing plants for spring water, fruits, wild greens and kimchi.”

In addition, Director Kwak said in the interview, “The hillsides will be transformed into orchards to create a tourist destination filled with scarlet and white peaches and other high quality fruit trees.” With regards to visiting the area, Director Kwak stated, “Due to the geographical location of the tourist zone being along the border, tours are generally half-day or one-day trips.”

It was also noted that the Chongsu and Youlgol Revolutionary Historic Sites will be included among visitor destinations, and that there are plans to include the Chongsong Bridge, which was used in the Korean War, and other Pangsan-ri locations as tourist destinations.

With regards to the tourist development zone, the KCNA expressed its anticipation, saying, “When it begins, tourism will attract many tourists to this zone and will therefore form an international tourism link between Chongsu and Dandong, China.”

Here is coverage in KCNA (2014-11-1):

Chongsu Tourist Zone Opens in DPRK

Pyongyang, November 1 (KCNA) — A ceremony took place on Thursday to open the Chongsu Tourist Zone in the DPRK to visitors.

The Chongsu Tourist Zone is an economic zone to be developed under the July 23, Juche 103 (2014), decree of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly, which covers some parts of Pangsan-ri and Chongsong Workers’ District in Sakju County, North Phyongan Province. Its total area is more than 3 800 hectares.

The work for opening the zone has been pushed ahead under the cooperation between DPRK’s North Phyongan Provincial People’s Committee and China’s Liaoning Province, Dandong City People’s Government and Dandong Overseas Travel Co. Ltd.

According to Kwak Jin Ho, director of the Economic Zone Development Department of the North Phyongan Provincial People’s Committee, the zone will turn into a tourist development zone equipped with modern facilities.
Its development project includes the construction of tourist service establishments and supply bases such as cultural recreation district, Korean folk village, folk hotel and production bases for specialties, livestock and marine products and fruits. Hillocks of the zone will be changed into orchards of high-yielding fruit trees as a tourist destination.

Half-day or one-day tour is mainly encouraged in the zone while its development going on as it is located in a frontier. The tourist destinations will include Chongsu and Youlgol revolutionary sites associated with activities of Kim Hyong Jik, an indomitable revolutionary fighter, and Chongsong Bridge used during the 1950-1953 Korean War.
The tourism in the zone will provide an international tourist link between Chongsu and Dandong, China.

Here is video coverage:

Here is coverage in the Pyongyang Times:

An inaugural ceremony was held on October 30 at Pangsan wharf to signal the start of tour of the Chongsu Tourism Development Zone in Sakju County, North Phyongan Province.

The participants got aboard a pleasure boat and went up the Amnok River enjoying sightseeing.

The Chongsu Tourism Development Zone was set up by a decree of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly on July 23 2014, and it covers part of Pangsan-ri and Chongsong workers’ district in Sakju County.

The zone faces part of Dandong, Liaoning Province, China on the other side of the Amnok River.

It is spread over some 3 800 hectares, with 1 413 hectares in Pangsan-ri and 2 330 hectares in Chongsong district.

It is to be developed with much emphasis on the Korean folk taste and equipped with latest service facilities for tourists.

The project includes building of infrastructure, public amenities, service facilities and bases for processing specialities, animal husbandry, and fruit and fish farming.

Major objects to be developed are amusement district, folk village, service district, folk inn, spring water factory and other establishments for processing fruit, wild edible greens and kimchi.

A variety of good fruit tree species will be planted on hills to add to the green scenery of the zone.

Tour of sites will be conducted in parallel with development of the zone.

A tour spans half or one full day, given that the zone borders China.

On the list of the tourist sites are the Chongsu and Youlgol revolutionary sites associated with activities of Kim Hyong Jik, an outstanding leader of Korea’s anti-Japanese national liberation movement, the broken Chongsong bridge which had been used by Chinese People’s Volunteers when they entered the Korean front during the Fatherland Liberation War (June 1950 – July 1953), the seat of Pangsan-ri, historical relics from the period of the feudal Joson dynasty in the Chongsong workers’ district.

The start of tour of the zone will help forge an international tourist link between Chongsu and Dandong and promote regional tourism and economic development.

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DPRK visitors to China in 2014

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

According to Yonhap:

The number of North Korean visitors to China fell more than 6 percent on-year in the first nine months of this year, a U.S. news report said Thursday, in an apparent sign of chilled relations between the two ideological neighbors.

Some 139,800 North Koreans traveled to China between January and September this year, down 6.5 percent from the same period last year, Radio Free Asia reported, citing China’s National Tourism Administration.

It marked the first decline in three years, possibly due to frayed ties between the two countries.

The figure rose 18.6 percent in 2012 and continued to grow 14.4 percent last year.

Employment was the most common reason to travel to China this year with 47 percent, followed by conferences and business with 19 percent. Less than 1 percent went there for tourism.

The vast majority, or 113,000, of them were men, compared with just 26,800 women, according to the report.

Read the full story here:
N. Korean visitors to China drop 6.5 pct in 2014
Yonhap
2014-10-30

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Yanji-Rason tour project launched

Monday, August 4th, 2014

According to Xinhua:

The Chinese border city of Yanji in northeastern Jilin Province has opened a direct bus tour service to the neighboring Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), tourism authorities said Monday.

A total of 48 Chinese tourists and two Chinese guides ended their two-day tour to the city of Rason on Sunday completing the first batch of bus tours in Yanji, said Wang Yanbo, deputy chief of Yanji tourism bureau.

The group visited Rajin Port, greenhouses housing Kimilsungia and Kimjongilia, both flower species named after the late DPRK leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the Korean Ethnic Cultural Park and the beachside of Pipa Island, said Lian Qinghua, general manager of Yanbian Northeast Asia Passenger Transport Group Co,. Ltd travel agency, operator of the tour.

The journey to the DPRK takes around four hours and will operate from Tuesday to Saturday, Lian said.P Compared with other travel methods to Rason, the nonstop trip avoids transfer processing at the China-DPRK border, he said.

Travel figures show about 10,000 Chinese tourists visit the DPRK annually.

Yonhap report here.

Read the full story here:
Chinese border city opens bus tour to DPRK
Xinhua
2014-8-4

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Foreign tourism in DPRK Increases by 20% in first half of 2014

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2014-7-25

The number of foreign tourists visiting North Korea in the first half of 2014 has increased by 20 percent compared to the previous year. The Choson Sinbo, a news outlet affiliated with the pro-North Korean General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, reported the following on July 15: “The amount of foreigners looking to visit Choson (North Korea) is continuing to increase. . . . [and] according to Choson International Travel Agency President Ham Jin, the number of foreign tourists has increased by 20 percent over the previous year in just the first six months of 2014.” The Choson Sinbo, however, did not release detailed information of the total number of visitors.

The article mentions tour-package diversity as the secret to the recent increase in foreign visitors, saying, “Since the beginning of the year, the recently opened Masikryong Ski Resort has been well received by skiing and hiking enthusiasts.” It also mentions that “Military enthusiasts are also showing interest in the Korean People’s Army Exhibition of Arms and Equipment, the Jonsung Revolutionary Museum, and other military-related locations.”

The Choson Sinbo also mentioned the recent surge in popularity for railroad enthusiasts to visit Pyongyang and experience the subways and railroads. Furthermore, president Ham Jin was also quoted as saying, “In the future, tourism packages will be created to cater to surfing enthusiasts and badminton enthusiasts.”

North Korea has decided to cancel this year’s “Arirang” mass games, a large-scale performance which previously accounted for a hefty share of the nation’s tourism revenue. Instead, the country will focus on the development of new tourist attractions. The DPRK has already established a travel agency that will oversee the visitation of the world’s Taekwondo athletes, and is promoting “tent tourism” in beach areas to attract Chinese tourists to various beaches in Rason city.

On July 14, 2014, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) introduced camping areas, touting the move as a “novel idea at the height of its popularity,” saying, “many tourists are enjoying swimming, taking walks, and fishing as they spend their afternoons and evenings in tents along the long sandy beaches in Rason.”

Rason, which has been designated as a special economic zone (SEZ), is renowned for its beautiful beaches in Chujin and Pipha Island and other locations frequently visited by Chinese tourists in the summer.

According to the KCNA, “Rason International Travel Agency has collaborated with Yanbian Spring International Travel Agency of Jilin Province in China to open a two-night, three-day camping event which took place from July 12th to the 14th.” At the event, it was said that Chinese tourists visited downtown Rason City during the day, and returned to the beach in the evening to pitch their tents, swim and enjoy freshly grilled squid and mussels.

Along with the opening of the “Rason-Yanji Angling Tourists’ Festival” on June 28, 2014, North Korea has been focusing on the Rason area, churning out a slew of new activities easily accessible to Chinese tourists.

Here is coverage in Yonhap:

“The number of foreigners visiting the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is continuing to increase,” said the Chosun Shinbo. It quoted Ham Jin, head of the (North) Korea International Travel Agency, as saying the figure jumped 20 percent on-year during the January-June period.

But the newspaper did not reveal how many foreign tourists visited the reclusive country during the six-month period.

The newspaper said the country’s new ski resort in Masikryong has grown popular among foreigners, along with mountaineering courses and military-related tourist spots.

The lavish resort, opened in January this year, is one of the pet projects of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un who reportedly enjoyed skiing while attending school in Switzerland in the early 1990s.

Read the full story here:
Number of foreign tourists to N. Korea jumps 20 pct in H1
Yonhap
2014-7-15

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Kumgang Resort operational status (UPDATED)

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Pictured above (Google Earth): April 2010 satellite imagery of the Kumgang tourist resort

The Kumgang resort was receiving 400,000 visitors per year until in July 2008 it became the scene of a terrible tragedy, the shooting of a South Korean tourist. Following the incident, the South Korean government prohibited its citizens from visiting the resort until the DPRK allowed a joint-Korean investigation of the shooting and made a guarantee of future safety.  The DPRK never agreed to these terms so the park fell idle.

The suspension of the project has cost the DPRK government millions of dollars. In response it has moved to pressure the ROK government to change course and allow the tours to resume. Below I have kept a timeline of the course of these events and their outcomes.

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2014-7-14: The Hankyoreh marks July 11–the 6th anniversary of the day when tours to Mt. Keumgang in North Korea were suspended. 

“As a result of the suspension of tourism to Mt. Keumgang, we have lost nearly 1 trillion won [US$981 million], including the 300 billion won [US$294.32 million] invested in the facilities and an estimated 530 billion won in lost revenue,” the investors said. They urged the governments of North and South Korea to immediately hold working-level talks to resume tourism to Mt. Keumgang and to hold reunions for divided families.

“The position of the government is that the issue of the safety of its citizens must be resolved before it can allow tours to Mt. Keumgang to resume. In addition, given the continuing UN Security Council sanctions in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile testing, which occurred after tours to Mt. Keumgang were halted, we think that the tours cannot be resumed until the government indicates that doing so would not be in violation of UN sanctions,” said Ministry of Unification spokesperson Kim Ui-do during a regular press briefing on July 11.

2012-11-27: The Hankyoreh reports that North Korea provided a written guarantee for the safety of tourists at Mt. Kumkang during 2010 working level talks with the South Korean government.

2011-9-6: South Korea asks foreigners not to invest in Kumgang saying such investments would violate existing property rights.

2011-9-6: Park Chol-su, head of Daepung International Investment Group, said he wants to discuss with South Korea’s Hyundai Asan how to handle its assets at the North’s Mount Kumgang.

2011-8-31: Chinese tourists arrive in Kumgang on Mangyongbong.

2011-8-30: South Korea calls for international boycott of Kumgangsan resort

2011-8-28: Taephung Investment Group outlines new Kumgang business plan

2011-8-24: Kumgang opened to DPRK and Chinese toursits

2011-8-23: South Korean workers leave Kumgang

2011-8-22: DPRK orders expulsion of remaining South Korean staff, auctioning of assets

2011-8-19: Hyundai officials visit Kumgang amid dispute over fate of company assets

2011-8-6: Steve Parks claims he has signed an MOU with the DPRK government

2011-6-2: “DPRK Law on Special Zone for International Tour of Mt. Kumgang” released. PDF of the statute here.

2011-4-29: SPA designates Kumgang special zone

2011-4-1: DPRK rescinds Hyundai’s Kumgang contract rights

2010-11-15: Kumgang re-fozen

2010-10-31: Family reuniuons were held there in October/November

2010-8-7: DPRK using Kumgagn assets to serve tourists in the North

2010-5-16: Taephung shows Chinese investors Kumgang

2010-5-3: Most South Korean and Chinese employees leave

2010-4-25: The National Defense Commission takes over the properties and puts the Korea Taepung International Investment Group in charge of attracting investors and tourists to the resort.

2010-4-23: Seoul denounces the seizure

2010-4-11: Chinese tourists began arriving at the resort (here and here).

2010-4-11: Employees told to leave/sealed up

2010-4-11:The DPRK “seizes” the Hyundai properties in the Kumgang resort

2010-3-24: Investors worried about losing out

2010-3-18: DPRK threatens to seize Kumgang Resort

2010-3-18: Hyundai-Asan’s chief offers to resign

2010-3-10: DPRK threatens to revoke contracts with South Korean partner, Hyundai-Asan

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Some western tourism numbers

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

According to Reuters:

While the country does not publish tourist numbers, travel agencies estimate as many as 6,000 Westerners visit the country every year, compared to just 700 a decade ago. Most are adventure-seekers curious about life behind the last slither of the iron curtain, and ignore critics who say their dollars are propping up a repressive regime.

Beijing-based Koryo Tours, one of the biggest operators sending Westerners into North Korea, has seen a tenfold rise in business in the past decade, peaking at about 2,100 visitors in 2012, according to Simon Cockerell, its general manager.

Around a quarter of those, Cockerell said, were American.

Troy Collings of Young Pioneer Tours, another China-based foreign travel agency specialising in trips to North Korea, says his company is seeing business double annually, and had nearly 1,000 clients in the past year.

Read the full story here:
Isolated North Korea a visitor draw, but sometimes literally a tourist trap
Reuters
James Pearson
2014-6-11

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