North Korea turns to online promotion of Mt. Geumgangsan tours

By 정주원
  • Published : Mar 16, 2014 - 13:08
  • Updated : Mar 16, 2014 - 13:08

North Korea has turned to active online advertising to attract more foreign tourists to its scenic mountain resort, which observers say is apparently linked to its efforts to earn much-needed hard currency.

The Korea International Travel Company, the North's state-run tourist operator, said on its website Sunday that the number of tourists from European and Asian countries to Mount Geumgangsan is on the rise.

"(Foreign tourists) have constantly expressed admiration and praised Mt. Geumgangsan," one of the postings on the site said.

The website also included several postings by Chinese and Taiwanese tourists who uploaded their travel epilogues and praises of the mountain resort.

The move is the latest effort by the heavily sanctioned country to diversify ways to entice more tourists and secure foreign currency amid a dispute between the two Koreas over their stalled joint tour program at Mount Geumgangsan.

The resort, just north of the inter-Korean border, is one of the symbols of inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation efforts. It was started and handled by South Korea's leading conglomerate Hyundai Group in 1998 with the backing of the Seoul government. The tour program was halted in 2008 when a South Korean tourist was fatally shot near the resort for allegedly wandering into a restricted military zone.

Pyongyang has since turned to foreign tourists to maintain the tour business and make up for the losses.

North Korea is also trying to link the tour to its recently opened ski resort, the Masik Pass Resort, on its east coast city of Wonsan, to draw visitors. Pyongyang is promoting Masik as "the most exotic ski destination on earth." (Yonhap)