North Korea simplifies border-crossing for Chinese tourists

May 5, 2014

BEIJING (Yonhap) — North Korea and China have simplified border-crossing procedures for Chinese tourists traveling to the North, China’s state media reported Monday, in another sign that Pyongyang is eager to boost tourism income.

The move allows Chinese people who take tours from China’s border cities in Jilin and Liaoning provinces to get a “travel pass” to North Korea within 24 hours, compared with the previous two days, the state-run China Daily reported.

The report did not elaborate when the simplified procedures took effect, but North Korea started a new one-day tour program last week by opening its border to bicycle tourists from China for the first time.

The newspaper carried a photo of Chinese tourists entering North Korea by taking bicycles from the northeastern city of Tumen in Jilin province to the North Korean border city of Onsong.

Last week, China resumed train operations on a route from Tumen to the North’s northeastern port city of Chongjin, after a year of renovation, the report said.

Zhang Weidong, an official at a Chinese travel agency responsible for the train travel, told the newspaper that more than 2,000 tourists used the train in 2012 before the renovation.

“The number is estimated to rise to 7,000 this year,” Zhang said.

The four-day train trip to North Korea costs about 1,900 yuan (US$304), the report said.

North Korea is one of the world’s most secretive and isolated nations, but since last year, Pyongyang has stepped up efforts to attract foreign tourists, including offering more international and domestic flights.

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