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Asia Minute: Asia’s Worst Tourist Destination?

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The state’s largest tourism conference is less than a month away. The theme of this year’s Global Tourism Summit is sustainability. And that’s one characteristic that may be missing from an unlikely country that’s refusing to give up on tourism: North Korea. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


For just a moment, forget about missile launches and nuclear tests, economic sanctions and boycotts.


North Korea is stubbornly trying to push a tourism industry. Not for folks like those listening to this story.


Unless you’re picking this up online in Russia—in which case you ARE the target audience.


This week, the Pyongyang government issued a license for its first tourist agency in Russia. Promising that such a tour is “safer than an evening walk in London.”


According to North Korea’s state news agency, travelers must be “checked” before coming—and a guide will be provided to assure the “adequate behavior of the tourist and guarantee his safety.”


One more note on behavior: long talks with locals “are not recommended.”


Reuters reports a 15-day tour that will bring you “full immersion in the culture of North Korea” would run the equivalent of about 2,000 U.S. dollars.


As for that walk in London comparison, the U.K. Foreign Office just this week warned against travel to North Korea saying the security situation “can change with little notice”—adding “this poses significant risks to British visitors and residents.”


For U.S. citizens, it’s no longer a matter of choice. Earlier this summer, the State Department banned travel to North Korea, because of the risk of “long term detention” in the country.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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