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Shiver me timbers! North Korea sets sail for cruising

March 31, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Cruising is one of the world’s big growth markets – and North Korea, a potential player, is keen to get started by rehabilitating and refurbishing an aging, Russian-built cruise ship.

Luxury cruising and relaxation is not quite what springs to mind when most people think of North Korea, a reclusive dictatorship ruled by a hereditary Communist monarchy. The country is usually associated with firing missiles or testing atom bombs.

A proposal listed on the Mount Kumgang region website and reported by Reuters states that North Korea is seeking USD 20 million to buy the 30,000-ton, Soviet-era Royale Star, capable of carrying 1000 passengers.

Kim Jong-Un

North Korea doesn’t plan to let lack of money or international sanctions stand in the way of its casino cruise ambitions. The ship it seeks is currently docked at Kosong Port and sails to Southeast Asia and Vladivostok in Russia.

“We are trying to diversify international tourism at the world-renowned Mount Kumgang by using cruise ship services,” the proposal says.

International sanctions were imposed on North Korea after its first nuclear test in 2006. The United Nations reports that citizens in much of the country are undernourished, as North Korea appears to place greater priority on weapons development than on nutrition.

Not to mention the bizarre assassination at Kuala Lumpur International Airport last month of Kim Jong-nam, half brother of North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un. See: Assassin fashion for $1200 after KL airport killing

That murder, allegedly using a nerve poison, caused major ructions between North Korea and Malaysia. Malaysia suspects an employee of North Korea’s state airline, stationed in Kuala Lumpur, was was implicated in the plot.

North Korea is often described as “the hermit kingdom” – perhaps the only country in the world without advertising, internet or McDonald’s. Yet there is still tourism there, with Intrepid Travel and Tongil Tours among operators taking tourists there on organised trips. Kim Jong-Un aims to boost foreign tourism from just over 100,000 annually to two million by 2020.

Even so, investment analysts feel that few foreign investors would be willing to place money in the cruise ship venture.

Written by Peter Needham

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