May 14, 2013 at 3:14 PM ET
A Western tour company in China said Tuesday it has obtained permission from North Korea for Westerners to make day trips into the country from the Chinese border.
Gareth Johnson of Young Pioneer Tours said his Xi'an-based company — after years of lobbying — had received Pyongyang's approval to organize tours for non-Chinese foreigners to the North Korean border town of Sinuiju, which so far has been open only to Chinese tourists.
Johnson said he expects the day trips — which may begin in June — to be popular among Westerners looking for an affordable and convenient option to visit the largely isolated country.
Westerners already can visit North Korean on weeklong organized tours, with an average cost of $1,300 per person, while day trips would cost considerably less and could fit into the travel itinerary of someone who is visiting China, Johnson said by telephone.
Sinuiju is connected by bridge to the Chinese city of Dandong along the Yalu River. It has been open to Chinese tourists since the 1990s and receives about 20,000 Chinese visitors each year. However, travel agencies say the number of Chinese tourists recently has plunged due to tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Tourists to Sinuiju can visit a local revolutionary museum, see a statute of the country's former leader Kim Il Sung, watch performances and take photos with kindergarteners.
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