Despite not being known for its tourism industry, the secretive nation of North Korea is reportedly seeking foreign investment in order to operate a cruise ship complete with a casino on routes around southeast Asia and across the Sea Of Japan to the Russian port of Vladivostok.
According to a report from the Financial Times newspaper, the authoritarian nation of 24 million people established its special Mount Kumgang tourist region in 1988 in an attempt to attract overseas visitors and bring in legal sources of hard currency. Access to this rural area only a few miles from the nation’s border with South Korea remains heavily restricted but it does offer visitors the chance to take part in highly choreographed tours.
The newspaper reported that North Korea is now seeking investments of up to $20 million from foreign entities with the cash due to be used to operate tours on the 30,000-ton Royale Star from the port of Kosong, which is located near the Mount Kumgang area.
“We are trying to diversify international tourism at the world-renowned Mount Kumgang by using cruise ship services,” read the official government proposal. “The tourist passenger ships will have a variety of facilities so 1,000 passengers can experience safe and cultural travel.”
The Associated Press reported that the Soviet-era ship would additionally offer passengers “preferential business conditions” with trips targeted towards vacationers from nations such as Malaysia, China and Russia.
“I strongly doubt there will be foreign investors who are willing to invest money in North Korea given the current situation,” Lim Eul-Chul from South Korea’s Kyungnam University told the Financial Times. “North Korea has been interested in attracting investors to the tourism sector since 2014 in order to cope with international sanctions but they haven’t been very active given other developments.”