PHOTO: Looking into North Korea from the East Coast of South Korea. (Photo via Flickr/Jo)
North Korea is looking to the tourism industry for help amid economic struggles brought on by debilitating international sanctions.
According to the Financial Times, the country is seeking $20 million in foreign investments to operate a casino-equipped cruise ship.
While gambling is banned in North Korea, authorities in the Mount Kumgang tourist region—established nearly two decades ago to lure overseas visitors—on the Korean border have given the green light for development of a casino onboard the 1,000-passenger Soviet-era Royale Star.
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The ship, which is currently docked at Kosong Port near Mount Kumgang, would sail to destinations in Southeast Asia and Vladivostok in eastern Russia.
"We are trying to diversify international tourism at the world-renowned Mount Kumgang by using cruise ship services," said an investment proposal on Mount Kumgang's website via the Times.
"The tourist passenger ships will have a variety of facilities, so 1,000 passengers can experience safe and cultural travel." The proposal also said that "preferential business conditions will be guaranteed for the ship."
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It remains to be seen whether North Korea will be able to overcome its current standing, though, to successfully raise enough money.
Kyungnam University professor Lim Eul-chul expressed significant concerns to the Times: "I strongly doubt there will be foreign investors who are willing to invest money in North Korea given the current situation," referring to the isolated nation's recent missile tests in the Sea of Japan.
"North Korea has been interested in attracting investors to the tourism sector since 2014 in order to cope with international sanctions," added Eul-chul, "but they haven’t been very active given other developments."
There are plenty of other casino cruises around the world that travelers can enjoy in the meantime.