China again defied international sanctions by opening a North Korean travel agency in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei last Friday, the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo revealed Monday.
The travel agency will reportedly aid North Korea with promoting tourism to the rogue Communist state.
At a press conference in Taipei last Thursday to celebrate the agency’s opening, a representative of the Korean Heritage International Travel Company said that the country’s tourist trade had boomed despite international sanctions.
“Travel to North Korea is booming despite the continued UNSC sanctions,” the official said. “The number of Chinese tourists jumped from about 100 a day before May to about 1,000 a day now.”
The company has reportedly been set up as a joint venture between the North Korean cultural bureau and the Chinese travel union, with the North retaining overall control. The agency mainly offers package tours allowing people to visit what remains the most reclusive country in the world.
“It seems that China’s regulations have been disappeared as the international environment has turned favorable since the North’s summits with China and the U.S,” the travel company representative explained, adding that the agency intends to open a branch in Australia. “There is even a prospect of homestays with North Korean families from September.”
China’s behavior runs against sanctions passed by the U.N. Security Council last December that prohibit companies from doing business with the North Korean regime.
As noted by Chosun Ibo, “a visa-free market has been set up on the Chinese border to sell North Korean seafood to Chinese tourists although the trade is banned under UN Security Council sanctions.”
Pressure to relieve some sanctions on the regime has grown in recent months amid a thawing of relations between North Korea and the U.S., although Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has previously declared that America will not relieve any of their own sanctions until the regime has fully denuclearized
“We’re not going to relieve sanctions until such time as we achieved our objectives,” Pompeo said in May. “We are not going to do this in small increments, where the world is essentially coerced into relieving economic pressure.”
North Korea has made no secret of its ambitions to promote mass tourism as an increasing number of Chinese tourists visit the country amid warming diplomatic relations between Pyongyang and Beijing.
Reports last month indicated that dictator Kim Jong-un had encouraged President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping to invest in lavish tourist resorts across North Korea, although concerns remain that such initiatives may only enrich the regime and tighten its grip on power rather than trickling down to ordinary citizens.