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Russia and North Korea Forge Unlikely Tourism Ties

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Via Vladimir Putin/Twitter)

The news of the first group of tourists to visit North Korea since the pandemic, consisting of 20 Russians, including children, is a significant development in the country’s quest for tourism and economic revival. The tour, organized by the Vostok Intur agency, is a test tour delegation that will pave the way for other groups of Russian tourists to visit the isolated country. The tourists will visit various monuments in Pyongyang, including the Tower of Juche Idea, the Pyongyang Grand Theatre, and the three-tiered monument to the Party Founding. The tour’s affordability, costing $750 per person, makes it an attractive option for Russian tourists.

The trip comes at a time when many Russian tourists face obstacles traveling abroad due to sanctions applied to Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had previously recommended North Korea as a holiday destination for Russian tourists, citing the country’s unique attractions and ease of travel. The tour also underscores the significant progress made in the relationship between North Korea and Russia, which has been marked by increased economic cooperation and diplomatic exchanges.

North Korea’s economy has been devastated by the lockdown and persistent US-led sanctions, with the country’s tourism industry nearly non-existent since the pandemic. The recent relaxation of travel restrictions has led to an uptick in tourism, but the country still faces significant economic woes due to its ongoing nuclear program and international sanctions. The Kim-Putin summit in September marked a significant turning point in the relationship between North Korea and Russia, sparking global concerns that North Korea is providing conventional arms to Russia for its war in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Via Vladimir Putin/Twitter)

The tour is a key step in North Korea’s efforts to revive its economy, and it is seen as a win-win for both countries. Russia gains access to a new tourist market, while North Korea gains much-needed revenue and international recognition. The tour’s success could lead to a significant increase in tourism and economic cooperation between Russia and North Korea. The absence of international tourists has made North Korea’s tourism industry nearly non-existent, and the government is looking to revamp its tourism sector to attract visitors from around the world.

The tour’s departure from Vladivostok airport in Russia’s Far East marks a significant development in the deepening cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang. The trip is not only a significant step forward for North Korea’s tourism efforts but also a test of the country’s ability to host international tourists safely and efficiently. The country’s unique attractions, such as its skiing and snowboarding facilities, are expected to be a major draw for Russian tourists.

The tour’s success will likely be closely monitored by the international community, particularly by South Korea, which has shown interest in the news. South Korea’s government has stated that it has no record of North Korean state media reporting on tourists entering the country since the pandemic. The absence of international tourists has made North Korea’s tourism industry nearly non-existent, and the government is looking to revamp its tourism sector to attract visitors from around the world.

The first group of Russian tourists to visit North Korea since the pandemic is a significant development in the country’s quest for tourism and economic revival. The tour paves the way for other groups of Russian tourists to visit the isolated country, and it underscores the deepening cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang. The trip is a win-win for both countries, and it could lead to a significant increase in tourism and economic cooperation between them.

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