eTN Feature Story:
“Get to North Korea, while you still can.It won’t be the same if the regime collapses.” These are the words by a Chinese Tour guide taking tourists into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also known as North Korea.
Undeterred by escalating tensions between Pyongyang and Washington getting people nervous everywhere in the world tourism is booming at the Chinese- North Korean border checkpoint Dandong.
Once a visitors cross into North Korea, they are boarding dozens of waiting tour buses ready to depart for to tourism sites in North Korea including the capital Pyongyang.
“I just want the sense of nostalgia, to see a country that is poor, like China was when I was young,” said a man in his early 50s, from Jilin province.
Few expressed concern over the North’s persistent missile tests in recent months, which led the United Nations Security Council to impose tough new sanctions against isolated country.
Traffic, especially on cheaper group tours, has grown steadily to one of the world’s most isolated countries.
A flyer for the one-day tour to Sinijiu tout a trip to the city’s central plaza, where you can pay respects to a bronze statue of North Korea’s founding president Kim il-sung, as well as visits to a cosmetics factory, a revolutionary history museum, art history museum and a cultural park.
“You can feast on the North Korean speciality food by warm and hospitable North Koreans,” it says.
The number travelling just from Dandong spiked to 580,000 in the second half of 2016 alone, according to the state-run China News Service. The report said 85 per cent of Chinese tourist visits to North Korea originated from Dandong.
That’s still only a fraction of the eight million Chinese who visited South Korea in 2016.
Tourists can take ferries or charter speedboats down the Yalu for an up-close peek at North Korean villages and patrolling border guards.
One tour operator targeting wealthier, more adventurous travelers said it was receiving more inquiries in recent weeks over whether it was safe to travel.
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