North Korea has eased travel restrictions on U.S. tourists, hoping to boost its coffers and also improve the cash-strapped country’s image.
U.S. citizens had previously only been allowed access during the spectacular mass games, held last year in August through October. Now, travelers from the United States will be allowed to visit North Korea on official guided tours any time of the year.
Pyongyang’s overture to the United States coincided with a request to discuss resuming tours with South Korea. Last year, Koryo Tours took 282 U.S. tourists to North Korea compared to about 700 to 800 non-U.S. Westerners. Less than 2,500 U.S. citizens have visited North Korea since 1953.
According to Bonner, the real game-changer is that “Americans will be allowed to join with other Western tourists in exploring the rest of the country and not just areas just across the border.”