Foreign tourists camp in North Korea for first time

A group of tourists participated in the first ever camping trip for foreigners in the mountains of North Korea as part of a rare tour to the isolated country, it was reported Wednesday

IANS| Updated: Jun 18, 2014, 20:03 PM IST

Seoul: A group of tourists participated in the first ever camping trip for foreigners in the mountains of North Korea as part of a rare tour to the isolated country, it was reported Wednesday

"This is the first time that camping is a part of a tour in North Korea," Koryo Tours, the largest travel tour operator in North Korea and headquartered in Beijing said in its official blog.

The blog also described the camp along with pictures of some 10 foreigners, most of them Westerners.

"On this amazing journey we scaled the heights of some of the most iconic mountains in the DPRK (North Korea)," Koryo Tours said, adding that "we even spent a couple of nights sleeping in tents under the stars in these virgin territories".

The company also said that the enterprise has been a success and in 2015 it would offer new hiking and camping tours in North Korea.

This first camping trip in North Korea was organised in Mount Myohang, some 100 km north of Pyongyang, and in Mount Kumgang in the southeast, close to the South Korean border, the tour operator said.

South Korean tourists in the last decade have visited a tourism project in suspension since 2008 in Mount Kumgang and is the southernmost tip of the future "international tourist zone", the North Korean government said last week.

It also announced June 12 the decision to convert the country into "one of the world famous tourist destinations" by opening a strip of about 100 sq km of its territory from Mount Kumgang to the south eastern city of Wonsan to foreign tourists.

At present, tourism in North Korea is very restricted and does not permit tourists to visit cities or rural areas, even though getting a visa to enter the country is relatively easy for foreigners of most nationalities.

Experts say that Kim Jong-un is focussing on tourism as an important source of income that will boost the economy that has been in a crisis since the 1990s.