Following an eye opening display of missile tests earlier this week; North Korea has opened the door to foreign investors in order to help fund an international cruise liner that would boost tourism. Amidst controversy the country will look to open its doors to an area that allows a limited number of visitors each year. Despite the heavy restrictions on tourism access in North Korea, the country hopes that the world will invest in an opportunity for people to visit its Mount Kumgang region.
The proposal listed on the Mount Kumgang region website, claims that the cash-strapped country needs $20 million to buy a 30,000-ton Royale Star, which was once a Soviet-era cruise ship. “The passenger ship will be equipped with various facilities to allow 1,000 travelers to do cultural and safe travel in the seat,” the proposal states.
The cruise ship is currently docked at a port near Mount Kumgang and travels between Southeast Asia and Russia. The ship will also be able to operate a casino business, despite gambling being strictly prohibited within the country. The proposal explains, albeit through slightly broken English, that the opportunity to operate a casino cruise ship would give people the opportunity to see a beautiful area of the world that is usually left untraveled.
North Korea is just one of many countries in Asia that have been looking to bring gambling to the area, but they may be the most controversial. The few tourists who visit each year are taken on a very carefully guided tour, as to make sure they don’t leave the restricted tourist area. The tourist zone is located next to the country’s Kangwon province, which is where the unsuccessful attempt to fire a ballistic missile took place on Wednesday. A deal proposed by authorities to allow a casino aboard the ship could be an attempt to sweeten the deal, which would be otherwise uninviting.
Under the current political climate it is hard to imagine that anyone is going to be chomping at the bit for a deal such as this. North Korea is currently under strict international sanctions, which aren’t likely to improve under the Presidency of Donald Trump.
Currently, a group of Malaysian diplomats remain trapped inside the country following an incident that begun with the killing of Kim Jong Nam, who happens to be the half-brother of supreme leader Kim Jong Un. As if the need for investment wasn’t apparent enough, a recent report delivered by the Unite Nations estimated that every two out of five citizens were undernourished and nearly 70 percent rely on food aid.
A professor at Kyungnam University in South Korea recently shared his doubts about possible investor interest saying, “I strongly doubt there will be foreign investors who are willing to invest money in North Korea given the current situation,” said Lim Eul-chul. He went on to explain that North Korea has tried various attempts to bring tourists to the country and that the casino cruise is just the latest of the unsuccessful installments.