North Korea welcomes visitors: Russia leads first post-pandemic tour | Travel - Hindustan Times
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North Korea welcomes visitors: Russia leads first post-pandemic tour as Pyongyang reopens

Reuters | | Posted by Zarafshan Shiraz
Feb 09, 2024 06:59 PM IST

Russians enter North Korea in first historic foreign tour group since Covid-19 pandemic as Pyongyang's door opens

About 100 Russians flew to North Korea on Friday for a private tour, becoming the first foreign group to visit the reclusive state following the Covid-19 pandemic in a landmark trip summed up by the Russian embassy as "Pyongyang opens its door."

A group of Russian tourists arrive at Pyongyang International Airport in Pyongyang on February 9, 2024. A group of Russian tourists arrived in Pyongyang on February 9, AFP reporters saw, the first known foreign tour group to visit nuclear-armed North Korea since before pandemic-linked border closures. (Photo by KIM Won Jin / AFP)
A group of Russian tourists arrive at Pyongyang International Airport in Pyongyang on February 9, 2024. A group of Russian tourists arrived in Pyongyang on February 9, AFP reporters saw, the first known foreign tour group to visit nuclear-armed North Korea since before pandemic-linked border closures. (Photo by KIM Won Jin / AFP)

North Korea shuttered its borders with some of the tightest restrictions during the pandemic, in one incident shooting dead a South Korean who floated unauthorised into its waters.

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An Air Koryo flight, operated by North Korea with an ageing fleet of mostly Russian-made aircraft, carried the 100 visitors to the Pyongyang international airport, the Russian embassy said in a Facebook post on Friday.

The group included people in the tourism business and "travellers from literally all parts of Russia from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok" who will spend four days taking in sights in the North including a major ski resort, it said.

"We will look forward to new encounters with tourists from Russia!" it said. The ski resort it mentioned was a high-profile development project spearheaded by North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un after he took power in 2011.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency earlier cited Russia's Tass news agency as saying that 97 Russians, including teen ski athletes, departed from Russia's far eastern city of Vladivostok on the first group tour to North Korea since the pandemic.

The visit comes after Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin met north of Vladivostok in September and pledged closer economic and military cooperation amid charges by Washington that Pyongyang was helping Putin in the war in Ukraine.

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This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.
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