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North Korea's First Tour Agency Turns Out to Be Russian

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A tour agency reportedly licensed by Pyonyang to boost Russian tourism to North Korea has been outed as a Russian company.

Russian media including The Moscow Times on Thursday widely reported the launch of NKOREAN in Russia as the first officially licensed tour agency by the North Korean government.

But on Friday the Meduza news outlet said that NKOREAN was a Russian company which lacked the necessary license from Rosturism, Russia’s federal tourism agency, to offer such tours.

The information was confirmed to Meduza by NKOREAN’s sales director Yulia Mukhtakhipova.

Earlier on Friday, Russia’s Tourism Union spokeswoman Irina Tyurina told the Interfax news agency that NKOREAN was not registered in Russia as an official tour operator and trips to North Korea for Russian tourists were already available.

“Foreign tourists can only go to North Korea via companies which have been accredited by North Korea’s Foreign Ministry,” she was cited as saying. “So all Russian tour operators, which, by the way have long offered tours to that country, have such accreditation."

News of NKOREAN’s launch received widespread media attention on Thursday, after Interfax reported a North Korean Embassy aide as saying North Korea’s nuclear weapons would “fully guarantee safety and peace on the Korean peninsula” for Russian tourists.

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