North Korea Seeking Investment for Gambling CruiseMarch 31, 2017 8:25 am
North Korea is looking to raise much-needed funds for its cash-strapped economy by encouraging foreigners to invest in an international casino cruise liner, which would then take tourists around Southeast Asia, as well as sailing to Vladivostok in eastern Russia.
Located at a port in the country’s Mount Kumgang tourist region, the 30,000 tonne ship is seeking around $20 million in funds to power the cruise, and in a break from tradition officials will allow gambling onboard, which is usually strictly forbidden in the “hermit kingdom”. As an extract posted to the Mount Kumgang region’s official website explains:
“The tourist passenger ships will have a variety of facilities, so 1,000 passengers can experience safe and cultural travel.. preferential business conditions will be guaranteed for the ship.”
The Imperial Japanese Army ruled over Korea until the end of World War II in 1945, after which the US and USSR divided the country into two separate zones that in 1948 subsequently became two established separate governments. In the early 2000s, a slight thawing in tensions saw the Mount Kumgang region become an area of tourist co-operation between North and South Koreas, but unfortunately the détente was ended suddenly after a female South Korean tourist wandered into a restricted zone on a beach and was shot dead by soldiers.
In the meantime, analysts do not seem too convinced North Korea’s latest attempt to attract tourist dollars will bear fruit, and as Kyungnam University professor Lim Eul-chul explains:
“North Korea has been interested in attracting investors to the tourism sector since 2014 in order to cope with international sanctions.. I strongly doubt there will be foreign investors who are willing to invest money in North Korea given the current situation.”
North Korea is vehemently opposed to the United States, and in the past has threatened to develop “pre-emptive first strike capability” with missiles that can reach the US. According to an US senior intelligence official, North Korea likely has around 8 nuclear weapons, although FAS Nuclear Information Project director Hans Kristensen has said that “it is unclear if they are operational yet.”