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High-Ranking North Korean Official Is Traveling To New York

The senior North Korean official's trip to the U.S. was initially reported by South Korean media, which said Kim Yong Chol had flown to Beijing and is booked on an Air China flight to New York that leaves Wednesday. Confirming that news early Tuesday, Trump tweeted : "We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea. Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more. Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to New York. Solid response to my letter, thank you!" In a letter last Thursday, Trump abruptly canceled the summit that had been slated for June 12 in Singapore. That followed comments from North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, who said his country wouldn't "beg the U.S. for dialogue" and who called Vice President Pence a "political dummy" for suggesting North Korea could end up like Libya if Kim Jong Un doesn't make a deal. In late 2003, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi voluntarily dismantled the nation's nuclear weapons program.

For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/05/29/615095665/high-ranking-north-korean-official-is-traveling-to-new-york

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How safe is North Korea  and is it an ethical tourist destination?

Plus, visa-free access to China’s Hainan Island for 59 countries from May 1 and Bangkok taxi drivers get a crash course in English Locals and tourists in front of bronze statues of former North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il at the Grand Monument on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has been dominating the headlines of late, as its leader, Kim Jong-un, prepares for the April 27 summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in by suspending nuclear and missile tests and courting cautious optimism from adversaries and experts alike.  Technically still at war with the South, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has existed in almost complete isolation since its inception in 1948, and remains an enigma as well as a risky tourist destination – last September, the United States announced a ban on its citizens travelling to the country following the death of American student  Otto Warmbier , who died days after being released from detention in North Korea. On April 22,  32 Chinese tourists died in a coach accident while travelling on the Reunification Highway, which connects the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, with the southern city of Kaesong.   Hard-partying North Korean tour groups in spotlight after Otto Warmbier death Nevertheless, an estimated 5,000 Western tourists, and considerably more Chinese, continue to make the trip each year. China’s tourism authority does not publish figures for nationals visiting North Korea, although a report compiled by a South Korean think tank, the Korea Maritime Institute, found that more than 230,000 Chinese tourists made the trip in 2012, and more recent information suggests that numbers have risen dramatically. According to the state-owned China News Service, the number of Chinese visitors travelling from the border town of Dandong into the DPRK rose to 580,000 in the second half of 2016. Independent travel is out of the question. Instead, visitors must join an authorised tour, carefully designed to showcase the DPRK in its best light. Although, according to British-owned, Beijing-based Koryo Tours, which is responsible for taking 2,000 people to the hermit kingdom annually, these visits can be tweaked to suit the interests of the traveller, whether those lie in architecture, education or even fishing.  Why Chinese tourists are flocking to North Korea North Korea itself aims to cement its spot on the tourist trail, hoping to attract 2 million visitors by 2020. However, debate rages over the ethics involved with such an expedition, and whether travellers stepping foot in the DPRK are, in fact, giving their tacit support to a dictatorial regime.  Tour providers assert otherwise, insisting that tourism to North Korea does not prop up the government, but instead goes some way towards undoing its message that all Westerners are murderous, rapacious imperialists.  Arguments against visiting the DPRK state that there is no avoiding the fact that some of the money generated from tourism ultimately goes towards funding the regime and its endeavours, which, of course, include its nuclear programme. Many also note that the meticulously manicured glimpse offered to outsiders does little to expose what life is really like for North Koreans.  Hong Kong teacher pushes boundaries and trains future tour guides in North Korea For most, the question of whether it is ethically or morally right to visit North Korea is a circular one, and is perhaps as complicated as the responses a trip evokes. Simon Cockerell, general manager of Koryo Tours, says tourists come away from time spent in the country having experienced a complex mix of emotions that span surprise, frustration, fun, sadness and more. The Guardian journalist Peter Walker was a little more succinct when he declared, “It’s the most depressing place I’ve ever been.”  Hainan to offer visa-free access to tourists from 59 countries Hainan, China’s smallest and southernmost province, has long been (rather generously) referred to as the Hawaii of China.

For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/travel/article/2143053/north-korea-it-ethical-or-safe-tourist-destination

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