By Silvi writer
North Korea’s seafood is now a favorite for day-trip tourists from China, as the two countries step up commercial cooperation amid rising bilateral ties following Pyongyang’s shifting focus onto economic development.
Day trip from China’s border city of Hunchun to North Korea was launched only on July 10, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun quoted Chinese tour operators as saying earlier this month.
Tourists would arrive in North Korea by coach, and will then spend a few hours watching local singing and dancing shows, shopping local souvenirs, and enjoy local seafood in restaurants in Rason Special Economic Zone.
Total spending, excluding food and beverage or shopping, is roughly 100 yuan (USD $14.5) per head, according to the Asahi Shimbun. The route, according to the tour operator, could attracted up to 500 tourists a day at the highest.
The Japanese media also quoted a Chinese family of five, who joined the day tour, as saying they had “lots of big crabs and prawns”, which are “fresh and delicious”, at the cost of only 300 yuan, including drinks, in total.
Ties between Beijing and Pyongyang, which were strained in recent years, improved rapidly this year following North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s three unexpected visits.
Enhancing economic cooperation was a key topic of Kim’s meetings with China’s top leadership, including President Xi Jinping.
Kim declared a shift in his policy focus to the economy at the party’s plenary Central Committee meeting on April 20. Until then, North Korea had pursued the so-called Byungjin policy of developing both the military and the economy.
Kim Jong-un had visited a newly built seafood restaurant in Pyongyang ahead of his historic meeting with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June.
Kim asked restaurant workers to serve foreign customers, as well as North Korean workers, well, according to a report from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
UN Sanctions are biting North Korea hard. The country’s GDP contracted 3.5 percent in 2017, after growing by 3.9 percent the previous year, according to South Korea’s central bank.
An official from the Bank of Korea said in July that North Korea suffered from a fall in mining exports and heavy-industry activity because of international sanctions leveled at the regime by the United Nations. The bank added that the effects of the sanctions would continue to be felt in 2018 despite the recent diplomatic thaws between North Korea and the international community.