(Seoul) Russian tourists arrived in Pyongyang on Friday, the first group of foreigners to visit North Korea since the border closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AFP reporters noted. did.

AFP photos and videos show Russian tourists arriving at Pyongyang airport and walking around, smiling and taking photos under an arrivals board with flight details.

Moscow and North Korea have recently strengthened ties. Last September, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited Russia’s Far East to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin (though the number of visits was small).

South Korea and the United States then claimed that North Korea was sending weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine, violating a series of UN resolutions on Pyongyang banning its weapons program and Moscow on its war with Kiev.

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Natalia Zinina, manager of the Vostok-Intur tourist office, which organized the trip, told Seoul-based NK News that the group will visit North Korea from February 9th to 12th.

According to NK News, the Russian tourists will “first stop in Pyongyang before heading to Masikryong Ski Resort near the town of Wonsan on the country’s east coast.”

A total of 97 Russians will take part in the four-day trip.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, travel to Europe and the United States has become more complicated for Russians. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who also visited Pyongyang, said last year that North Korea could be recommended as a tourist destination, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.

The 97 Russians are the first foreign tourists to visit North Korea since the country reopened its borders in August 2023 after a nearly four-year closure related to the coronavirus pandemic. A group of customers.

“This example highlights the activation of exchanges and cooperation in various fields between the two countries after the North Korea-Russia summit,” Yang Mujin, president of Northern University, told AFP. Meeting with MM. President Putin and Chairman Kim were last year.

“This particularly suggests an intention to pave the way for President Putin’s visit to North Korea,” he said. “Russia may provide humanitarian aid, including food, to North Korea in the near future. North Korea may also accelerate and expand the scope of its assistance, including missiles, to Russia.”

This year, nuclear-armed North Korea declared South Korea its “main enemy” and shut down institutions dedicated to unification. They have threatened war even if their territory was violated by 0.001 mm.

Experts recently warned that North Korea may test cruise missiles before sending them to Russia for use in Ukraine.

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