While nearly two-thirds of Americans view North Korea as a “serious threat” and most would rather vacation literally anywhere else following the death of college student Otto Warmbier, Chinese adventure-seekers are visiting the North in ever-greater numbers, according to Reuters. The wave of tourism has been inspired by the fear that the latest escalation between Pyongyang and Washington might lead to the toppling of the Kim regime, which has successfully kept the forces of modernization at bay for decades, offering tourists a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse into the past that some say reminds them of a “young” China.
North Korea has become a favorite destination among wealthier, more adventurous Chinese travelers. Another tour operator who targets the affluent said he’s been fielding more questions about whether it’s safe to visit the North, Reuters reported.“But those that inquire often already have their heart set on going,” the operator, who declined to be named, told Reuters. “The idea of a bit of danger adds to the thrill and mystery of North Korea.”
While the looming threat of nuclear annihilation is keeping some tourists at bay, more daring travelers say they are trying to visit the North before regime change brings the country into the 21st century, according to one tour guide.“There have been quite a few tourists in my groups who say they want to see North Korea in its reclusive state while they can,” he said.
“It won’t be the same if the regime collapses.”
Few of the Chinese who spoke to Reuters were concerned about the North’s missile tests, or the economic sanctions imposed by the UN. Most said they saw the opportunity to visit a “piece of history” as too attractive to pass up.“Undeterred by escalating tensions between Pyongyang and Washington rattling nerves globally, a steady stream of tourists from China each morning passes through the immigration checkpoint at the border trading hub of Dandong.
Greeting them on the North Korean side are dozens of tour buses, collecting them for itineraries ranging from a day in neighboring Sinijiu to a week visiting North Korea’s main cities, including the capital Pyongyang.
“We’re curious. We want to see how they live,” Xu Juan said on Thursday before crossing the Yalu River, which marks the border between the two countries. Xu was traveling with friends and family from Hangzhou, in eastern China.
“I just want the sense of nostalgia, to see a country that is poor, like (China was) when I was young,” said a man in his early 50s, from Jilin province, declining to give his name.”
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On the other hand, your insurance costs are going to skyrocket.