The foreign minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov has urged Russian tourists to visit North Korea following a two-day meeting in Pyongyang, where he also met Chairman Kim Jong Un.
What was the meeting about?
The meeting was for the most part about improving bilateral ties between the countries, increasing security amidst a perceived threat from the United States, as well as improving trade between the two former Cold War allies.
Th meeting follows on from the historic visit to Moscow last month by paramount leader of the DPRK Chairman Kim Jong-Un, with ties between the two countries now deemed better than they have been since the time of the USSR.
Since coming under the strictest sanctions that any country has previously been under the DPRK has been keen to bolder up its friendship with Russia and has been a steadfast ally in its war against Ukraine.
Lavrov urges Russian Tourists to visit North Korea
After the meeting and as part of an overall aim to improve relations Lavrov urged tourists from the Russian Federation to consider the Democratic Peoples Republic ion Korea as a holiday destination.
And while monied Russian tourists have traditionally tended to opt for more “glamorous” places such as Thailand, or Dubai, going to the “near abroad” is not all that unheard of. Russians on lower incomes have taken to places such as Weihai in China, with many feeling that North Korea and indeed its beaches could hold potential for Russian tourists.
History of Russian travel to North Korea
During the Cold War when citizens of the Soviet Union were restricted to where they could travel the DPRK was a popular vacation spot for Soviet citizens. This was to such a a degree that North Korean money was even split into different “exchanges” depending on where you came from – with Eastern Block countries getting their own exchange.
What could the future hold for Russian Tourists to North Korea?
Since the onset on sanctions the Russian Federation under Putin have been extremely pragmatic with regards to how they conduct business. This has of course been seen with them changing brands such as McDonalds into homegrown knock-offs, but also with regards to tourism.
This has seen countries such as Sri Lanka and Thailand almost awash with Russian visitors, as their choices for foreign trips has been trimmed somewhat. And it is with the lower end of tourism that North Korea might stand to reap rewards. North Korea have traditionally done tiered tourism prices, whereby Chinese pay the leaf followed by Russians, other Asians and then western guests.
North Korea could thus be pushed as being the “near abroad” with budget Soviet nostalgia trips being pushed, particularly in the vein of their new alliance. It is though perhaps in the beach arena where there could be even more potential.
The Beach Resort and Russian Tourists to North Korea
The Wonsan beach Resort, which as far as we know is in hiatus was being designed as an enclosed beach resort under the same lines as how Veradaro in Cuba uses to be ran – in that the staff live on site and the guests do not leave.
This could be a win win for both sides, with Russian guests happy enough to get essentially a beach holiday, while the North Koreans can run a self-sustained tourist resort that does not need to go out and both the common man. In this respects it would mirror that of the Old Kumgang Resort previously ran by South Korea.
And while such and endeavour would take serious investment there has certainly not been a better time than now to ask a rich neighbour for such a thing.
Regardless of what happens though, we will be back with our own unique take on North Korean tours.