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Chinese Tourists in the Hermit Kingdom: From Flux to Inflection
By William A. Hodges
The North Korean government’s recent prioritization of tourism not only demonstrates its attempt to attract more foreign currencies to solve the problems caused by economic sanctions, but also shows its desire to showcase a positive image of itself to the world. In this lies an issue that must balance national concerns of pragmatism and idealism, as well as visibility and invisibility. The current inflectionary status of inbound Chinese tourism comes after years of flux in tourism numbers to the DPRK. This has mostly been as a result of uncertainty surrounding North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and its treatment under consequent Western sanctions. However, after 2017, the time of North Korea’s most successful missile test, Kim Jong Un’s bargain to doggedly pursue nuclearization over economic growth proved the resilience of his juche-inspired plan and also gained him undeniable credibility as a world leader. This has been compounded by subsequent high-level talks with ROK, U.S., Russian, and PRC leaders alike in which Kim has made himself and his hermit kingdom more visible than ever. Analyzing how Chinese tourism to the North has responded to the DPRK’s recent nuclearization and these other foreign policy developments could provide valuable insights into the future of bilateral economic relations.
In the midst of Kim Jong Un’s ascendance to power, the DPRK was simultaneously involved in the Six-Party Talks and in the development of a missile program that was…(read more by subscribing above and receive every monthly issue of the Insurance Research Letter. Informing the insurance community every month since 1966)