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Bon voyage to first North Korea tour group

THE first tour group from Shanghai to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is set to depart on May 25.

But so far, locals have given a cold shoulder to the trip and only "a few" people have booked a five-day tour priced at 5,380 yuan (US$788.67), officials with the organizer Shanghai Jin Jiang Tours Co Ltd told today's Oriental Morning Post.

Those interested can register for the trip no later than 10 days before departure, officials said.

Travelers will first fly to Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province, where they will transfer to a flight to North Korea's capital Pyongyang.

The package includes accommodation at Pyongyang's best hotels - equivalent to 5-star hotels in Shanghai - and a taste of Korean cuisine including ginseng chicken soup and Korean style hot pot, Xie Jianyao, manager of Jin Jiang's North Korea department said.

As well as visiting scenic spots such as Mt Myohyang, travelers can participate in other local activities such as karaoke singing or going to pubs by paying extra fees ranging from 40 yuan to 100 yuan.

Jin Jiang plans to send two tour groups every month, Xie said.

Shanghai Donghu International Travel Service also introduced North Korea packages priced from 4,680 yuan to 5,380 yuan.

Other major tour agencies including Spring International Travel Service and Shanghai China International Travel Service Ltd don't have plans to organize tours to North Korea. They are waiting for more nostalgic senior residents to show interest in the destination, the Oriental Morning Post report said.

China's tourism authority announced it would open North Korea as an out-bound destination for domestic tourists on September 2.


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