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North Korea To Allow First Known Foreign Travellers Since 2020

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A post from Russian provincial authorities and a Western tour guide indicates that a group of Russian tourists is expected to be the first known visitors permitted into North Korea since anti-pandemic border lockdowns started in early 2020.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, North Korea implemented some of the strictest border controls in the world, and it hasn’t opened up to outsiders completely yet.

The governor of Russia’s far eastern Primorsky Krai region, which borders North Korea, visited Pyongyang for talks in December. After the talks the trip was arranged, which was advertised by a Vladivostok-based agency, the regional government said in a post on Telegram this week.

An online itinerary states that the four-day tour will leave on February 9 and stop in Pyongyang and a ski resort.

“It is a good sign, but I would hesitate to say it necessarily will lead to a broader opening due to the special circumstances for this one trip,” he said. “But given that no tourists have been for four-plus years, any tourism trip can be viewed as a positive step forward.”

Despite international sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un agreed to intensify their cooperation on the political, military, and economic fronts during their summit in eastern Russia in September.

Resolutions of the UN Security Council that impose restrictions on trade with North Korea due to its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes mainly have no effect on tourism.

Prior to the start of the pandemic, North Korea experienced a spike in Chinese visitors, who could have brought in an additional $175 million in revenue for the financially strapped nation in 2019, as estimated by Seoul-based NK News.

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