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Monday March 9, 2009

Only Malaysians can visit North Korea without a visa

IN AN effort to boost tourism in North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPR Korea), the Malaysia DPR Korea Travel Agent Alliance was formed recently.

The alliance was initiated by a group of Malaysian travel agencies and Korea International Travel company president Jo Su Gyu and his delegation, who visited Malaysia recently in conjunction with the Matta Fair.

Thirty-two Malaysian travel agencies were invited for the occasion and to meet the delegates.

Present during the event was Malaysia-China Friendship Association president and former Malaysian ambassador to China Datuk Abdul Majid Ahmad Khan.

Pioneering initiative: (from left) Yangtze Cruise and Tour Sdn Bhd director Ryan Son Kuanfah, Tan and Jo at the announcement of the formation of the alliance.

Abdul Majid said it was a good initiative to pioneer tourism in a developing market like North Korea.

“The formation of such an alliance will enable companies to exchange and discuss information.

“It is a good platform for ventures into this new market as North Korea has good tourism to offer.

“We have opened our embassy in North Korea since 2003 and the relationship between the two countries has been very good.

“There have been a number of visitors from Malaysia to North Korea,” he said.

He hoped the alliance would bear fruit.

According to Jo, Malaysia is the first and only country that North Korea has fully its doors opened to.

“It is the only country whose people can come to visit without a visa.

“We warmly welcome Malaysians to Pyongyang.

“The best time to come would be from Aug 1 to Sept 30, when we have the great Arirang Festival.

“We will do our best to make things convenient for Malaysian tourists and satisfy their demands, while fostering friendship between Pyongyang and Kuala Lumpur.

“The establishment of the alliance will help the Malaysian people to be more informed about North Korea,” he said.

Jo assured Malaysians that they would experience the hospitality and magic of DPR Korea when they visited the country.

Yangtze Cruise and Tours Sdn Bhd president Tan Han Soong said contrary to many reports on North Korea, the country had much to offer.

“This is quite a new market but a lot of the Western media reports on North Korea are not favourable, so we face problems in developing tourism there.

“North Korea is a good place to travel and it’s near China, so there are more opportunities.

“There is no AIDS, no theft and no beggars, and the people are educated.

“Pyongyang is really beautiful, with many high-rise buildings.

“In August and September last year, more than 1,000 people travelled to North Korea and the feedback has been very good.

“The alliance will cooperate to train Malaysian and North Korean travel agents,” he said.

Tan said there would be more advertisements to promote tourism to North Korea.