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8,000 Westerners embark on dangerous tour to Pyongyang every year

8,000 Westerners embark on dangerous tour to Pyongyang every year

Posted June. 23, 2017 07:13,   

Updated June. 23, 2017 07:18


While the U.S. undergraduate Otto Warmbier who was detained in North Korea for 17 months and died after six days since he was sent back home in coma, travel agencies around the world are still continuing to attract visitors to the reclusive state. According to a research by the Dong-A Ilbo, travel agencies exclusively offering tours to North Korea are still thriving in Germany, England, China, Australia and other nations. Despite heightened regulations due to nuclear development issues, endless curiosity in the world's last remaining closed nation continues to draw Western tourists to North Korea.

"The number of tourists remained low around 1,000 for the past three years, but we expect that number to rise to 1,500 by the end of this year, thanks to great performances," said the Chinese travel agency Young Pioneer Tour, which the Dong-A Ilbo interviewed last month. As the agency that provided a ticket to Warmbier, the Frequently Asked Questions corner on its website answers the "Safety" issue as "Despite what you may hear, for most nationalities, North Korea is probably one of the safest places on Earth to visit if you follow the laws as provided by our documentation and pre-tour briefings." But due to concerns regarding the latest tragedy of Warmbier, it announced, "We now consider the risk to Americans visiting North Korea to be too high and as such we can no longer accept Americans travelling on U.S. passports for tours to North Korea."

This agency implied that Warmbier was detained due to his violating the local law, as it told Dong-A Ilbo last month, "No one has yet been detained due to no reason." "Since the beginning of the Donald Trump Administration, we have seen a slight decline in the U.S. travelers," the Chinese tour agency said. "We recommend American citizens to first check their insurance companies, as many plans do not cover tours to North Korea, though premiums are not as high as other nations."

Jung-Min Dong ditto@donga.com