Foe those of us in the DPRK tourism industry, the question of if there will be a North Korean reopening, or rather when is a daily one. Sadly the recent news of more Russian diplomats leaving the country has dampened even the most optimistic of watchers hopes for a speedy opening.
Most people though do not see the bigger pictures nor understand the unique workings of North Korea, opining that as the rest of the world opens North Korea surely “must” and “soon”.
Sadly with North Korea there is never a “must”, nor a need for “soon”. The DPRK very much play by their own rules and having watched the death that spread through China following its reopening, will no doubt be reticent to fling open their borders without at least some stricter than usual measures.
To read about the Pyongyang lockdown click here
Gaging the current situation for a North Korean Reopening
Of course as some of the few people with access to actual North Koreans involved in the tourism industry we are regularly asked what the opinion of the Koreans is. In answer it tends to be a mixed bag of tricks. Some of our partners are confident that the country is setting itself up to reopen, while other suggest the country really has no plans to reopen soon, if at all.
Generally though we speak to few, if any in Pyongyang that see it as even a vague possibility this year.
And yet there are constant reports of the “imminent” opening of the country, which always leads to a huge influx in enquiries. Sadly these tend to come from two sources, Chinese travel agents, or Christian groups, both of which have a habit of being over zealous.
Russian Exodus from Pyongyang
Alas though we live in a world of realism, with said realism seeing the Russian embassy, the second biggest mission within Pyongyang seeing off further staff and diplomats, who cannot be replaced due to the strict Covid-19 rules, thus leaving a skeleton corp.
As an embassy statement put it “On June 2, we saw off our fellow employees of the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang and their family members,Together with us, they spent all the time here while the borders of the DPRK remained closed: for almost three and a half years in very difficult conditions in complete isolation, without vacations, in isolation from relatives and friends.”
Russian Ambassador Ambassador Matsegora further added ““The country’s leadership focuses primarily on protecting the population from new dangerous diseases that local medicine may not be able to cope with quickly,”
A surprisingly candid and open statement from a Russia that is desperately seeking allies in its time of war, but also a stark reminder that despite the constant rumors North Korea is not only unlikely to reopen soon, but when they do it will be on their own terms.