North Korea beaches and a jail?

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under News, North Asia

SEOUL, 20 July 2017: North Korea’s tourism agency has launched a website offering holiday options ranging from surfing to rice planting, despite strong US warnings to avoid travel to a nation where several trips have ended in jail.

Sixteen Americans have been detained in the past decade in North Korea, including 22-year-old student Otto Warmbier who was given a long prison term for stealing a hotel propaganda poster. He was sent home in a coma in June but died several days later.

The “DPR Korea Tour” website, run by the North’s National Tourism Administration, depicts the country — which is subject to stiff sanctions over its weapons programmes — as just another tourist destination. Read more

UNWTO’s Rifai got it wrong

June 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 23 June 2017: At about the same time as Otto Warmbier was shipped out of North Korea in a coma on a flight home to the US, UNWTO secretary general, Taleb Rifai, was preaching the good news that tourism could build international relations with North Korea.

Warmbier never regained consciousness. He died at home from serious brain damage caused by the brutal treatment meted out by guards at a North Korean prison where he was incarcerated for 17 months.

His crime? He pilfered a political poster from his hotel as a memento of his trip, just minutes before he left for the airport. He never made that flight and the last time he was seen in public was during a public televised viewing of his sentencing when he cried for mercy. Read more

Student’s death stalls tours

June 21, 2017 by  
Filed under News, North Asia

BEIJING, 21 June 2017: The death of US student, Otto Warmbier, following his incarceration in North Korea has shaken tour operators catering to thrill seekers, with several reconsidering whether to take Americans to the reclusive state.

Warmbier, 22, died Monday after being medically evacuated to the United States, last week, suffering from severe brain damage, with US President Donald Trump blaming Pyongyang’s “brutal regime” for his plight.

Young Pioneer Tours, the China-based travel agency that took Warmbier to North Korea, said in a Facebook post that it would no longer allow US citizens on its trips. Read more

Russian ferry serves North Korea

May 19, 2017 by  
Filed under News, North Asia

MOSCOW, 19 May 2017: The first ever ferry service linking Russia and North Korea was launched, Thursday.

The company operating it said, it hope to serve tourists and North Korean workers.

The ferry will travel weekly between Russia’s far eastern city of Vladivostok and the North Korean port of Rajin, also called Rason, said Vladimir Baranov, director of InvestStroiTrest, the company that operates the Man Gyong Bong boat that will service the route. Read more

Air China resumes Korea flight

April 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Aviation, News, North Asia

BEIJING, 26 April 2017: Air China will resume services to North Korea, 5 May after suspending flights for around two weeks.

At the time media reports said the cancellation was a response to political and military tension in the region.

However, the airline insisted it was a commercial decision due to low traffic response. Read more

Snow but no skiers

April 26, 2017 by  
Filed under News, North Asia

MASIKRYONG, NORTH KOREA, 26 April 2017: Outside a large stone tablet acclaims “the work of Dear Leader Kim Jong-Un who devoted hard work and heart and soul to make our people the happiest and most civilised people”.

On the ski fields of Mount Taehwa, groomed pistes snake down wooded hillsides to a luxurious hotel and a giant screen showing a North Korean army choir. But the runs are empty.

Work began on Masikryong ski resort, the only one in the North and the brainchild of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, after Pyeongchang in the neighbouring South was awarded the 2018 winter Olympics. Read more

No politics behind flight suspension

April 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Aviation, News, North Asia

BEIJING, 19 April 2017: China Monday denied any political motive in the cancellation of flights by its flag carrier to North Korea, as pressure mounts on Beijing to help curb Pyongyang’s weapons programmes.

State broadcaster CCTV reported last Friday that Air China had suspended its Beijing-Pyongyang route, leading to speculation the move was intended to pressure the North.

But foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang distanced his government from the decision and said it was purely “market-based”. Read more

Air China suspends North Korea flights

April 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Aviation, News, North Asia

BEIJING, 18 April 2017: Flights between Beijing and Pyongyang operated by Air China, the only foreign carrier operating regular commercial flights into North Korea, were suspended Monday, state broadcaster CCTV said on its official website.

The news comes in the wake of North Korean army statements vowing a “merciless” response to any US provocation, according to the country’s official news agency KCNA.

Reports of activity at a nuclear test site in North Korea ahead of Saturday’s 105th anniversary of the birth of the country’s founder Kim Il-Sung have fuelled speculation it could imminently carry out a sixth test. Read more