N. Korea to reopen borders after lifting Ebola restrictions

March 2, 2015
A gate on an inter-Korean land route in Goseong, a South Korean town on the east coast near the border with North Korea. (Yonhap)

A gate on an inter-Korean land route in Goseong, a South Korean town on the east coast near the border with North Korea. (Yonhap)

BEIJING (Yonhap) — North Korea, which has banned foreign tourists from visiting the isolated country since last October due to fears over the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, will reopen its borders, a Beijing-based tour firm specializing in tours to the North said Monday.

North Korea’s tourism officials told the Beijing-based Koryo Tours earlier in the day that there is “some movement” in the strict travel ban for foreign tourists and the company expects to confirm the North’s plan to reopen the border.

“The National Tourism Administration in Pyongyang contacted us this morning with news that there is some movement in the current travel ban and that we should expect confirmation later today with details of the country’s plan for reopening the border,” Koryo Tours said in a statement posted on its website.

Koryo Tours did not elaborate further, but added that the North Korean borders are “set to reopen for tourism.”

Although no cases of Ebola have been reported in countries near North Korea, the Pyongyang regime has closed its borders to foreign tourists and imposed a strict 21-day quarantine on all people, including diplomats, entering the country.

North Korea’s frantic measures against Ebola appear to highlight concerns that it could pose a direct threat to the regime’s survival if the virus crossed into the North, South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers last month.

It is not the first time that North Korea has closed its borders because of a deadly disease. In 2003, the North closed its borders for several months due to the spread of the SARS virus.

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