Russians arrive in North Korea as first foreign tour group since Covid-19 | Tourism news

The visitors’ arrival comes at a time when Moscow and Pyongyang are strengthening their relations and pledging close economic and military cooperation.

A group of Russian tourists arrived in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, becoming the first foreign group to visit the country since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Russian Embassy said on Facebook that an Air Koryo plane transported 100 visitors to Pyongyang International Airport on Friday.

Their arrival comes as Moscow and Pyongyang strengthen relations, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un making a rare foreign trip to meet President Vladimir Putin in the Russian Far East last September.

The embassy said that the tour group included people working in the tourism field and “travelers from all over Russia from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok.” They will spend four days exploring the sights and visiting the main ski resort.

“We will look forward to new meetings with tourists from Russia!” The embassy added.

Russia’s TASS news agency reported earlier that 97 Russians, including teenage ski athletes, had left the city of Vladivostok in Russia’s far east.

A group of Russian tourists
Russian tourists take photos after arriving at Pyongyang International Airport (Kim Won Jin/AFP)

The Russians are believed to be the first foreign tourists to enter North Korea since the country reopened its borders last August, after nearly four years of border closures due to the pandemic, when even its own citizens were denied entry.

But the trip surprised Asian observers, who expected that the first tourists to North Korea after the epidemic would come from China, North Korea’s largest diplomatic ally and economic exporter.

It has also become difficult for Russians to visit Europe since the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and the West imposed sanctions on Moscow.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who visited Pyongyang last year, said the country could be recommended as a tourist destination, TASS news agency reported.

the field of tourism

The official website of the North Korea tour of North Korea recently uploaded promotional videos showcasing many of the country’s attractions, such as the scenic Taedong River and snow-capped Mount Paektu.

Analysts said Kim showed interest in developing North Korea’s tourism industry in his first years in power, suggesting this may be a priority for the leader after the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, tourism to North Korea was limited, with tour companies saying about 5,000 Western tourists visit the country each year.

US citizens made up about 20 percent of the market before Washington banned travel following the imprisonment and subsequent death of American student Otto Warmbier.

Pyongyang and Seoul also once cooperated on the Mount Kumgang complex, which was visited by thousands of South Korean tourists. But that ended suddenly in 2008 after a North Korean soldier shot and killed a tourist from the South who deviated from the approved route, and Seoul suspended travel.

The arrival of the tour groups on Friday comes as Moscow and Pyongyang strengthen relations. Putin and Kim pledged to boost economic and military cooperation amid US allegations that Pyongyang is helping Russia in its war efforts in Ukraine by sending weapons.

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