Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Ferry between Russia, North Korea starts regular service

"These are Russian citizens, who are returning from North Korea, and tourists from China", said Mikhail Khmel, deputy director general of Investstroytrest, quoted by TASS.

"Mangyongbong's operation as the Rajin-Vladivostok global tourist liner will make a positive contribution to developing marine transport and economic cooperation and tourism between the two countries", Reuters cited the North Korean KCNA news agency.

In April, a representative of Russia's InvestStroiTrest company told Sputnik that the Mangyongbong-92 ferry would run between Vladivostok and Rason since May with approximately six trips a month.

The Man Gyong Bong ferry was built in 1971 and underwent remodification past year. The Mangyongbong ferry is also said to carry up to 200 passengers and around 1,500 tons of cargo, according to TASS. The Japanese government has expressed concerns over the ferry service. "Now these contacts are rather limited due to the lack of transport infrastructure", said Artyom Lukin, Assistant Professor at Far-Eastern Federal University's School for Regional and International Research.

A cargo-passenger ferry service linking Russian Federation and North Korea has started regular trips and completed its first journey on Thursday.

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Experts have said North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, may be hoping closer ties with Russian Federation would help if China, the North's main economic benefactor, steps up sanctions against it over its weapons programmes, in defiance of United Nations resolutions.

Until now transport connections between Russian Federation and North Korea were only possible by the air (two flights per week between Vladivostok and Pyongyang performed by Air Koryo) and by railways via the Hasan station.

Discussions on various topics such as how to improve service for Chinese tourists will be held at different sessions during the forum, an annual event in Russia's Far East since 2015. "Now this is the only passenger ferry service between North Korea and the rest of the world".

The ferry Mangyongbong was in service between the North Korea and Japan before 2006, when Japan suspended its operations in response to North Korean missile test.

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