North Korea has announced the reopening of its borders to foreigners, marking the first time since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020. This decision not only allows the entry of tourists but also offers a potential source of revenue for the isolated nation. Here’s a closer look at this noteworthy development.
North Korea’s announcement of permitting foreigners to enter the country starting Monday was reported by China’s state broadcaster, CCTV. While visitors will be allowed entry, they are required to undergo a two-day quarantine period upon arrival. As of now, there has been no immediate report on this move in North Korea’s state media.
The regime led by Kim Jong Un has been slowly easing the stringent border restrictions imposed nearly four years ago. In recent months, North Korea permitted high-level delegations from China and Russia to visit in July. In August, commercial aircraft were sent to Beijing and Vladivostok to repatriate diplomats, students, and workers who had been stranded abroad due to the border restrictions.
Tourists from countries like China have historically been an essential source of foreign currency for North Korea. Their visits facilitated international transactions for the cash-strapped nation, which remains isolated from the global banking system.
Kim’s decision to close borders had a severe economic impact on North Korea. It disrupted what little trade the heavily-sanctioned state could engage in and led to an economic contraction. Estimates from the Bank of Korea in Seoul suggested that the North Korean economy became smaller than it was when Kim assumed power over a decade ago.
The resumption of trade with China, North Korea’s historical trading partner, has led to speculations that the nation’s economy may have returned to growth after two years of contraction. However, Fitch Solutions notes that significant uncertainties still exist.
It’s worth noting that the country has declined vaccine aid from the international community, raising concerns about the capacity of its dated healthcare system to handle a potential large-scale Covid-19 outbreak.
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Source: Hindustan Times