Published on : Friday, August 11, 2017
Undeterred by soaring tensions between Pyongyang and Washington, a steady stream of tourists from China passes through the immigration checkpoint each morning at the border trading hub of Dandong. On the North Korean side, they are greeted by dozens of tour buses, collecting them for itineraries ranging from a day in neighboring Sinijiu to a week visiting North Korea’s main cities, including the capital Pyongyang.
Few expressed concerns over the North Korea’s persistent missile tests in recent months, which led the United Nations Security Council on Saturday to impose tough new sanctions against Pyongyang. On Thursday, North Korea dismissed warnings by the U.S. President Donald Trump that it would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the United States as a “load of nonsense”, and outlined plans for a missile strike near the Pacific territory of Guam.
However, tour operators said their industry remains robust. Traffic, especially on lower-end group tours, has grown increasingly to one of the world’s most isolated states in the past few years, in spite of North Korea’s persistent nuclear and missile tests, which have resulted in ever-tightening U.N. sanctions.
China’s tourism authority has not published a breakdown of the total number of Chinese visitors to North Korea since 2012, when it said 237,000 made the trip. However, the number traveling just from Dandong increased to 580,000 in the second half of 2016 alone, according to the state-run China News Service. The report said 85 percent of Chinese tourist visits to North Korea originated from Dandong. Tourists can take ferries or charter speedboats down the Yalu for an up-close peek at North Korean villages and patrolling border guards.