The tightly controlled North Korea has decided to open its doors to Chinese tourists coming without passports. It is welcoming Chinese visitors to cross the border to visit the country for half a day. Even Chinese without passports can visit North Korea, leave aside the need for a visa.
The move comes soon after China opposed a joint decision by the US and South Korea to install anti-missile system against possible North Korean missile attacks. The Chinese criticism, which might weaken the U.S. resolve, has indictedly helped the Kim regime in North Korea, observers said.
North Korea has been facing terrible economic pressures with the economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations targeting its banks. North Korean banks have been earlier accused of funelling illicit funds from different parts of the world. China became a signitory of the UN sanctions along with other countries, and this resulted in a sharp reduction in Chinese imports from North Korea.
In desperation, the Kim regime is now opening its doors to visitors to earn some tourism money, observers said. Under the tourism plan, each visitor must pay $52 for a trip that would cover a designated zone covering 30,000 square kilometers across the China-North Korea border. Over 1,000 Chinese have already applied for availing of the program within two days of its announcement.
The tourism plan has Beijing’s support, and has been launched by the local government in northeast China’s Liaoning province. It allows Chinese tourists to visit the North Korean city of Sinuiju without passports for half a day. Visitors only need to apply at the border checkport with their identity cards, which every Chinese has, according to Dandong China International Travel Service, the tour organiser.
The travel zone will be expanded to 130,000 square meters in the future, allowing it to receive 10,000 tourists per day during peak seasons, according to Quan Shunji, general manager of Dandong China International Travel Service.
At present, the Chinese city of Dandong sends over 10,000 tourists to North Korea every year.