Daniel W. Drezner

Your spring break travel plans are solved!!

Mom!!  Dad!!  Kids!!  Want to go somewhere fun for the winter, but tired of the same old vacation destinations?  Have I got the place for you!!  Try…. Pyongyang!! North Korea will allow more tourists from its arch-foe the US to visit this year, seeking alternative sources of hard currency as sanctions bite deeper. North Korea ...

Mom!!  Dad!!  Kids!!  Want to go somewhere fun for the winter, but tired of the same old vacation destinations? 

Have I got the place for you!!  Try…. Pyongyang!!

North Korea will allow more tourists from its arch-foe the US to visit this year, seeking alternative sources of hard currency as sanctions bite deeper.

North Korea at present allows US groups to visit only for the Arirang mass games, when tens of thousands of impeccably choreographed gymnasts and performers create colourful mosaics and slogans with painted cards. This year, the shows are scheduled to begin in August.

However, Pyongyang has said that it will also allow visits throughout the rest of the year, according to Simon Cockerell of Beijing-based Koryo Tours. Koryo, which says it escorts about 80 per cent of US travellers, was informed of the decision by its local partner in North Korea, he said. Koryo took about 280 US visitors into the country last year.

Somewhat more seriously, this appears to be one of several small signs that the regime in Pyongyang is not quite as secure as it used to be:

Further denting Pyongyang’s dollar income, Thai authorities last month detained an aircraft packed with arms being smuggled from Pyongyang. Diplomats saw this as a severe threat to the cash flow of Kim Jong-il, the country’s leader. Reports from defectors also suggest a recent currency redenomination has caused economic chaos during a bitter winter.

In a very rare admission that the country needed to improve its economic record, Mr Kim this month confessed that the nation had failed to deliver “rice and meat soup” to the people. He vowed to improve people’s lives.

Just so I’m clear on this, in the past two months there have been protests in North Korea, and the country’s leader has publicly admitted being unable to feed the country. 

This is still the DPRK we’re talking about, right? 

Developing….

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