Thrill-Seeking Chinese Tourists Rush To Visit North Korea "Before The Regime Collapses"

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."

China stopped publishing national data about tourism to North Korea in 2012. But regional data show that more than 580,000 Chinese from the province of Dandong crossed the border into North Korea during the second half of 2016, more than the double the 237,000 Chinese who visited the country during 2012.

“China's tourism authority has not published a breakdown of the total number of Chinese visitors to North Korea since 2012, when it said 237,000 made the trip.


But the number traveling just from Dandong spiked to 580,000 in the second half of 2016 alone, according to the state-run China News Service. The report said 85 percent of Chinese tourist visits to North Korea originated from Dandong.


That's still only a fraction of the 8 million Chinese who visited South Korea in 2016.”

According to Reuters, tourists can take ferries or charter speedboats down the Yalu River – the border between the North and China – to catch a glimpse of North Korea villages and the heavily armed guards who patrol the border.

Other fun activities include paying respects to a statue of Kim il-Sung.

“A flyer for the one-day tour to Sinijiu tout a trip to the city’s central plaza, where you can pay respects to a bronze statue of North Korea's founding president Kim il-Sung, as well as visits to a cosmetics factory, a revolutionary history museum, art history museum and a cultural park.


"You can feast on the North Korean specialty food by warm and hospitable North Koreans," it says.

As we reported last month, trade between China and North Korea expanded by 10% during the first half of the year, as have the number of border crossings. Meanwhile, traffic, especially on lower-end group tours, has grown steadily to one of the world's most isolated states over the past few years, despite North Korea's persistent nuclear and missile tests, which have elicited increasingly tight U.N. sanctions.

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.”

If the Chinese government has its druthers, the North’s status as a living wax museum likely won’t change any time soon: According to an article in the Global Post, the Communist Party has vowed to step in if the US or South Korea tries to topple the Kim regime.

Though no official US records are available, it’s believed that hundreds of adventure-seeking US tourists would visit North Korea every year. Typically, they would arrange tours through Switzerland, or sign on with a Chinese tour company based near the border. However, relations between the two countries have deteriorated to such a degree that any US tourist crazy enough to visit the North should get it over with soon: The State Department has banned US passport holders from traveling to the North after Sept. 1.

For any American hoping to visit a foreign country ruled by a hostile government, we hear Eritrea is beautiful in the fall.


Bai Suzhen Fri, 08/11/2017 - 20:44 Permalink

The way I see it, if you're going to have nuclear annihilation, might as well get a close look at it, first hand.  I mean, who wants to watch it on TV, and have to deal with all those fat people commercials, when you can check it out in person?

AnAnony Fri, 08/11/2017 - 21:01 Permalink

No need to rush. They will soon see North Korea in their own country. In China, the saying goes like this: In the past, we thought NK was our past, now we know its our future.

Dragon HAwk Fri, 08/11/2017 - 21:06 Permalink

Eritrea wow my geography is slipping, sounds like Christians and Muslims living in harmony ( just nobody else ) have to do something about that, do they have any Oil.

Dancing Disraeli Fri, 08/11/2017 - 21:18 Permalink

The Chinese have a strange nostalgia for their crappy, impoverished Mao-era past.I remember seeing an article years ago, where some enterprising Chinese guy started a restaurant where the cuisine consisted of the horrible food everyone ate during the poverty-stricken era.It drew a lot of customers.  At the end of the article, they interviewed a customer after he had finished eating, and he said, 'Yep, it's as bad as I remembered.'

vega74 Fri, 08/11/2017 - 21:18 Permalink

Ah so!  Trump's plan to re-build America:A surge in Chinese tourism dollars to tour post-apocalyptic U.S.A.How do you say in Mandarin ' Look ma, look at all the peasants ' ?Just for the record, that was sarcasm.I respect the Office of the President.Trump is setting out to accomplish the impossible:Trump yearns to do the impossible in 140 characters or less.In an oval office  he backs himself into a corner.And the exit strategy is ???Diplomacy?  Grace?  The unkown unkown?Stay tuned!  Don't touch that dial (button ?)Happy Friday everyone :)

Rebelrebel7 (not verified) Fri, 08/11/2017 - 21:29 Permalink

Why append so much time and money traveling to see something similar to America? Fro. Wikipedia:"Since Eritrea's conflict with Ethiopia in 1998–2001, the nation's human rights record has come under criticism at the United Nations.[121] Human rights violations are allegedly frequently committed by the government or on behalf of the government.Freedom of speechpressassembly, andassociation are limited. "They also engage in torture and indefinite detention without charges or a trial just like the fascist government in America!

Cluster_Frak Fri, 08/11/2017 - 21:31 Permalink

i can only imagine the line up of chinese tourists with selfie sticks in Auschwitz circa 1944. I bet they would photograph all the way through the showers and the crematoria.

sinbad2 Fri, 08/11/2017 - 21:50 Permalink

If you were to Google tourism New Zealand, Canada, Thailand etc, you would be swamped with information about numbers, resorts, everything you ever wanted to know. If you Google tourism North Korea, all you get is page after page of American propaganda.So why does the US try so hard to stop the world finding out about North Korea?