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Tourism Locks Private Traders out of Sinuiju

ICC Note:

DailyNK reports that the major North Korean border city of Sinuiju has been closed to visitors from other regions of the country. The North Korean government continues to controlling and limiting flows of information across the northern border, showing its fear of any ideological threats. The government also takes actions to ensure local residents do not interact with foreign visitors in deep levels.

06/23/2014 North Korea (DailyNK)- The major North Korean border city of Sinuiju has been closed to visitors from other regions of the country, in a move believed to be linked to the state’s decision to permit tourists to remain in the city overnight. Other measures have been taken to ensure that minimum levels of interaction take place between local residents and the foreign visitors.

A source from North Pyongan Province explained to Daily NK today, “Since it became possible for foreign tourists to stay in Sinuiju, the control of citizens here has gotten much stricter. Unless you are a Party official or working for a state-run business, you can’t get into the city at all. That means that traders and ordinary people aren’t being allowed to enter.”

“We are also completely forbidden from entering the hotels and inns where the foreign tourists stay,” the source added. “They warned us that people who come into unsanctioned contact with foreigners here for tourism will be punished.”

The restrictions, which mirror those placed on contact with foreign tourists in North Korea’s more established destinations, reflect the Kim regime’s aim of limiting flows of information in and out across the country’s northern border. While the authorities need to attract tourists on highly restricted tours in order to earn foreign currency, they simultaneously recognize that such tourists pose a threat to regime security if allowed to interact freely with local people.

Restrictions placed on entry into the city are of specific concern to traders, the source reported, since Sinuiju is a locus for obtaining many of the Chinese goods that are sold in the country’s network of public markets, or jangmadang. As a result, “Sinuiju-based runners are rushing around delivering goods to the interior,” the source revealed.

“There have always been orders not to take food from foreigners and things like that, but it’s extremely unusual for them to stop people from other regions entering the city,” the source explained. “At a time when the number of foreign tourists is growing, they’ve found it impossible to sit back and ignore traders coming in to get manufactured goods like shoes, cosmetics; that kind of thing.”

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