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Russian tourists They would be the first international travelers to enter North Korea since the closure of its borders in 2020, at the beginning of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Reports published Wednesday by Russia’s state-run Tass news agency underscore growing cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang.
The initiative occurs after the meeting that they maintained in September from the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Unand the president of Russia, Vladimir Putinat a cosmodrome in the Russian Far East.
Tass did not specify what dates the ski trip will take placebut the report surprised some observers specialized in Asia, who expected the first post-pandemic tourists to arrive from Chinathe North’s main diplomatic ally and economic lifeline.
According to Tass, an unknown number of tourists from the eastern Primorye regionin the far east of Russia, they will first fly to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, where they will visit monuments such as the “Juche Tower”named in honor of the local philosophy of “juche” or self-sufficiency.
The group will then travel to Masik Passon the eastern coast, where the most modern ski resort in the country is located, added Tass, who noted that the visit was organized under the agreement reached between the governor of Primorye, Oleg Kozhemyako, and the North Korean authorities.
Kozhemyako traveled to Pyongyang in December to engage in talks on improving economic ties as part of a flurry of bilateral exchanges since the summit between Kim and Putin. Before his visit, the president told Russian media that he hoped to talk about tourism, agriculture and trade cooperation.
The meeting between Kim and Putin increased foreign belief that Pyongyang is providing conventional weapons to Moscow in exchange for cutting-edge Russian weapons technology.
Washington said last week that he had evidence that Russia used missiles supplied by the North in Ukraine. United States, South Korea, Japan and other countries condemned the missile transfer in a joint statement.
North Korea and Russia have independent disputes with the United States and its allies: Pyongyang for the progress of its nuclear program and Moscow for its prolonged war in Ukraine.
The North has been slowly easing pandemic restrictions and opening its international borders as part of efforts to revive an economy devastated by lockdowns and persistent U.S.-led sanctions. His reputation suffered another setback in August 2022, when authorities made the highly dubious claim that they had overcome a domestic outbreak of COVID-19.
“For North Korea, tourism is the easiest way to earn foreign currency under the international sanctions regime,” said Koh Yu-hwan, former president of the South Korean Institute for National Unification.
Koh said that expects Pyongyang to open the country also to Chinese tourism.
Leif-Eric Easley, professor at Ewha University in Seoulnoted that “visitors from Russia are unlikely to be as economically lucrative for North Korea as the return of visitors from China, which are more numerous.”
“But the domestic political risk is relatively low, while it offers a symbol of revitalization in the relationship with Moscow, in line with Pyongyang’s current geopolitical narrative,” he added.