The perceived crass behavior of Chinese tourists abroad has seemingly united the entire world in exasperation, heaving a collective sigh as they begrudgingly accept their longed-for wads of RMB. Yet despite their habit of throwing candy to North Korean children like “feeding ducks” or snatching infants for photo-ops, North Korea’s move to wean themselves off reliance on tourists from their one and only ally still comes as somewhat of a surprise.
Eager not to rely too heavily on tourists from across the Yalu, Pyongyang has been looking for ways to promote tourism from countries other than the PRC. According to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, Beijing prohibited tour groups from entering North Korea overland since last year, as punishment for Pyongyang’s three nuclear tests conducted in February that year that went ahead without Chinese approval. As a result, North Korea’s foreign currency income plummeted, and they are now taking measures to avoid such a sharp downturn in the future. In particular, they are focusing on developing tour groups from Europe and south-east Asia.
This has all led netizens from Taiwan and Hong Kong, which is currently debating the possibility of reducing the number of mainland visitors by 20 percent, to look at the Hermit Kingdom with a sudden tinge of envy. Commentators pointed out that despite being a dictator, even Kim Jong-Un knows you can’t revitalize the tourism industry by relying on one source of tourists alone, making him several shades smarter than Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung and Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou.
“North Korean officials really have a lot of wisdom,” reflected one reader, “their foresight far outstrips that of Hong Kong bureaucrats.”