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China recognizes North Korea as tourist spot

China has officially recognized North Korea as a tourist destination for Chinese tour groups, the Xinhua News agency said on Tuesday, quoting Chinese tourism authorities.
/ Source: Reuters

China has officially recognized North Korea as a tourist destination for Chinese tour groups, the Xinhua News agency said on Tuesday, quoting Chinese tourism authorities.

North Korean tourism agencies will also be allowed to open representative offices in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, it said.

Chinese individuals were allowed to travel to North Korea on tourism visas as recently as four years ago, but regulations were subsequently changed. However, Chinese tourists have continued to visit North Korea in small groups.

China is the main trading partner with North Korea, whose closed economy faces the risk of famine in the next 14 months following several years of poor harvests.

In 2009, the two countries will celebrate their 60th year of mutual diplomatic recognition.

North Korea offers limited access to tour groups from other countries, especially during its famed Mass Games, but strictly controls tourists' movements and interactions with its citizens.