North Korea has opened its doors to Russian tourists.
The Stalinist autocracy has issued a licence for the first travel agency in Moscow to promise clients ‘full immersion’ in the nation’s culture – and an experience ‘safer than an evening walk in London’.
NKOREAN.RU, a Russian company licensed by North Korea’s government, offers organised tours for groups of up to 10 people or individuals ‘to show the travellers the multi-faceted life of this most closed of countries’.
Guests to North Korea must necessarily be ‘checked’ before their trip and will always be accompanied by a guide who will monitor the ‘adequate behaviour of the tourist and guarantee his safety.’
North Korea is offering Russians a grand tour of their hermetic nation. The most expensive bundle includes a visit to a factory – but probably not with Kim Jong-un as a guide
Travellers, however, have been warned against having long talks with locals and must be ‘checked’ before being granted entry into the country
Pictures of strategic and military facilities are banned and long talks with locals ‘are not recommended’.
The dig at Britain – which Kim Jong-un on Tuesday branded a ‘vassal’ of the USA while dismissing its soldiers as ‘mercenaries’ – appears to be a clear reference to recent terror attacks in the country.
Five people were murdered on March 22 when an Islamist terrorist drove his car into pedestrians walking across Westminster Bridge before stabbing a policeman.
And on June 3, a trio of Islamists murdered eight people with similar tactics on London Bridge.
Another feature in the most expensive travel bundle – which costs £1,560 – is a visit to a farm
North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and dozens of missile tests since the beginning of last year, significantly raising tension on the heavily militarised Korean peninsula and in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.
Two tests of inter-continental ballistic missiles in July triggered a new round of tougher global sanctions.
But a senior Russian diplomat yesterday warned that ‘any possibilities of expanding’ sanctions against North Korea ‘have been exhausted’ in a sign of support for the hermetic nation.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov the UN Security Council must instead focus on a political settlement.
North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and dozens of missile tests since the beginning of last year and attracted sanctions from the US and other countries – but Russia has recently spoken out against more sanctions
Faced with economic problems made harder by multiple sanctions, the Pyongyang government is keen to develop tourism to earn cash.
The most pricey tour, 15 days ‘full immersion in the culture of North Korea’ costing 118,090 roubles (£1,560), includes visits to a farm, a mineral water factory, a Buddhist temple, walks in the mountains and an introduction to national cuisine.
Visits to numerous museums to founding leader Kim Il-Sung are also on offer.
Other less demanding tours include relaxation on a beach, an aviation show and even a beer festival.
It is unclear how popular these trips will be among Russians who have already developed a fondness for visiting Europe and the affordable resorts of Turkey and Thailand.