North Korea has opened a new tourism zone at the border city of Sinuiju, across from the Chinese city of Dandong. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- North Korea has opened a new tourism zone at the border city of Sinuiju, across from the Chinese city of Dandong, the largest hub of China-North Korea trade.
The zone was launched in order to earn foreign currency for the Kim Jong Un regime, Japanese television network NHK reported Wednesday.
North Korea's state-controlled media outlet KCNA reported the new zone, which faces the Yalu River and the Chinese province of Liaoning, was inaugurated on Dec. 20.
The zone was developed in conjunction with a Chinese travel agency in Dandong, and includes "comprehensive modern amenities," according to KCNA.
A travel agent in Liaoning province told NHK the Sinuiju tourism zone is accessible by cruise boats from Dandong. Inside the area, restaurants, gift shops and shopping options are available, the source said.
The zone has been launched but it's expected the area would not be open to Chinese tourists until after the Lunar New Year, or February 2016.
NHK reported North Korea launched the new zone in order to earn foreign currency for the regime, and are targeting Chinese tourists, who are a relatively untapped source of cash for Pyongyang.
North Korea's economic landscape is changing dramatically, and Kim Jong Un previously has announced the Seventh Congress of the Korean Workers' Party, most likely to discuss landmark economic reforms.
Inside the country, there are currently 750 gray markets, according to one South Korean estimate.
Lim Eul-chul of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University said North Korea is now home to 1 million "consumer elites."