North Korea lures visitors in spite of its image as unwelcoming destination

Published on : Tuesday, August 1, 2017

North KoreaDespite North Korea’s image as an unwelcoming destination, it has not given up portraying itself as a prime tourism destination. On June 15, just three days after it returned Otto Warmbier, the young American tourist to the United States in a coma, Pyongyang organized a conference in the Spanish capital, Madrid, to highlight the country’s touristic attractions.

With presentation of slides showing amusement parks and mountainous landscapes, the Secretary-General of the UNWTO, Dr. Taleb Rifai, urged Spaniards and other Europeans to travel to North Korea. He said, “The more Europeans go to North Korea, the more North Koreans will be open to the outside world,” adding that it would be “irresponsible” to turn down Pyongyang’s offer to open up to western tourists.

“The United States says my country is closed, that it’s hard to get in; but the Americans are the ones closing their doors,” said the North Korean ambassador, Kim Hyok-chol. He insisted that his country imposed official guides on travelers not not to supervise them, but because “it is safer and more practical.”

In between nuclear tests, North Korea continues to inaugurate gigantic touristic infrastructures to attract local and international visitors. Almost 120,000 tourists visited North Korea in 2014, according to the UNWTO.


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