Asian dynamic cruise industry took a pioneering step toward breaking down the most obstinate barrier of today as Jeju Cruise Industry Association in South Korea announced plans to launch voyages to North Korea.
Sailing out of Jeju Island, Peace Cruise Line will visit North Korean ports of Wonsan, Rajin, Sonbong and Nampo. Initially, the voyage will be intended only for Chinese travelers, using a Chinese-flagged cruise ship. Following are cruises on other non-South Korean ships carrying tourists from South Korea and other countries. This will be the first for a long time ability of South Korean travelers to cross the maritime border between South and North.
The project will require substantial investments in North Korea. The newly founded Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is believed to be a funding partner in creating reception facilities.
The Governor of Jeju, Won Hee-ryong, told Asia Cruise Forum, held recently on the island, that the effort was to serve as the “messenger of peace through tourism”.
However, cruising in North Korea is not a novelty. In August 2011, the country launched its first voyage onboard the ageing Mangyongbong, a former cargo vessel. The cruise was deemed as the least luxurious in the world, as the ship was rusty, with cramped cabins and Captain’s Table was just a help-yourself buffet.
The port city of Nampo in North Korea offers 9 docks for large ships. It is ideal for shore excursions to Pyongyang. The port of Wonsan also has limited tourist facilities. It has served as a receiving point for tourists from Japan.
If successfully launched, the project will attract clientele from all around the world, as North Korea is the newest frontier of cruise industry.