N.Korea Eyes Valuta with Tours to Celebrate New Year

  • By Yoon Hyung-jun

    December 31, 2018 12:38

    North Korea is offering a package tour that gives visitors a chance to greet the New Year in Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang, one of the most desolate concrete expanses in the world.

    The tour is being organized by a state-run travel agency and not by a foreign tour operator and seems aimed at generating much-needed valuta amid international sanctions.

    North Korea's National Tourism Administration unveiled the tour on its website, available from Dec. 29 to Jan. 5. Visitors will be given the "rare opportunity" to watch a midnight performance in Kim Il-sung Square and an ice sculpture exhibition in the capital.

    North Korea is apparently resorting to a network of associates in third countries to bypass sanctions.

    The Wall Street Journal reported that North Korea has "built an alternative financial system using a shadowy network of traders" for years. For instance, a timber company in Africa called Chilbo, which employs many North Korean workers, exported US$100,000 worth of lumber to a Chinese company, but the payment went through a middleman in Singapore.

    The daily said North Korea has surreptitiously bought and sold oil, coal and cigarettes despite international efforts to stem such activities.

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