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Tourists return to North Korea for first time since COVID-19

Photo: Kim Won Jin Agence France-Presse Russian tourists will “first stop in Pyongyang before going to the Masikryong ski resort, near the town of Wonsan on the east coast of the country”, according to the specialist site NK News.

France Media Agency in Seoul

February 9, 2024

  • Asia

Russian tourists, the first known group of foreigners to visit North Korea since the border closures linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, arrived in Pyongyang on Friday, journalists from AFP.

AFP photos and video show Russian tourists arriving at Pyongyang airport and walking around, smiling as they take photos under the arrivals board showing flight details.

Moscow and Pyongyang have strengthened their ties recently. Last September, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made a trip — he made few trips — to the Russian Far East to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

South Korea and the United States later claimed that North Korea sent weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine, violating a series of UN resolutions regarding Pyongyang for its banned weapons program and Moscow for its war with Kiev.

Natalia Zinina, a manager at the Vostok Intur tourism agency that organized the trip, explained to the Seoul-based specialist site NK News that the group would visit the North from February 9 to 12.

Russian tourists will “first stop in Pyongyang before going to the Masikryong ski resort, near the town of Wonsan on the country's east coast,” according to NK News.

A total of 97 Russians are expected to take part in the four-day trip.

It has become more complicated for Russians to travel to Europe and the United States since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who also visited Pyongyang, said last year that North Korea could be recommended as a tourist destination, according to the Russian news agency Tass.

The 97 Russians are the first known group of foreign tourists to visit North Korea since the country reopened its borders in August 2023, after almost four years of closure linked to the COVID pandemic. 19.

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“This example highlights the revitalization of exchanges and cooperation in various fields between the two countries following the North Korea-Russia summit,” President Yang Moo-jin told AFP. from the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, referring to the meeting between MM. Putin and Kim last year.

“This particularly suggests an intention to pave the way for a Putin visit to North Korea,” he said. “There is a likelihood that Russia will provide humanitarian aid, including food, to North Korea in the near future. North Korea could also accelerate and expand the scope of its support, including missiles, for Russia.”

Nuclear-armed North Korea this year declared the South its “main enemy” and shut down agencies working toward reunification. It threatened war even if “0.001 millimeter” of its territory was violated.

Experts have recently warned that Pyongyang could test cruise missiles before sending them to Russia for use in Ukraine.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116