The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a country in East Asia, located in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering South Korea and China. Its capital, Pyongyang, is the country's largest city by both land area and population. It is a single-party state led by the Korean Workers' Party (KWP), and governed by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un since 2012. It has a population of 24,052,231 (UN-assisted DPRK census 2008) made up of Koreans and a smaller Chinese minority. Japan 'opened' Korea in 1876 and annexed it in 1910. The Republic of Korea (ROK) was founded with US support in the south in August 1948 and the Soviet-backed Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the north in September that year.
North Korea-China border crossing 'shut to tourists'
Business travel is still allowed, according to a Chinese official
The biggest border crossing between North Korea and China has been closed to tourist groups, a Chinese official said on Wednesday as nuclear tensions mounted, but business travel was still allowed.
An official at the Dandong Border Office, who declined to give his name, said: “Travel agencies are not allowed to take tourist groups to go there, since the North Korean government is now asking foreign people to leave.”
“As far as I know, business people can enter and leave North Korea freely,” he added.
China is North Korea’s sole major ally and the provider of the vast majority of its trade and aid, with most of the business passing through Dandong.
A woman surnamed Wu at a travel agency in the town said municipal authorities told it on Tuesday that because of tensions in Pyongyang, Dandong travel firms would not be able to take tours into North Korea from Wednesday.
“It was absolutely North Korea’s [decision] because the travel bureau told us ‘North Korea is now no longer allowing tour groups to be taken in’,” the woman said.
An AFP photographer at the border on Wednesday saw cars and a larger vehicle passing over the bridge crossing the Yalu river that marks the frontier, in both directions.
On Tuesday Pyongyang advised foreigners to consider leaving South Korea, warning that the Korean peninsula was headed for “thermo-nuclear” war.
Last week North Korean authorities also warned embassies in Pyongyang to consider evacuating as it would be unable to guarantee diplomats’ safety in the event of conflict, but the statement was largely dismissed as empty rhetoric.
Most governments made it clear they had no plans to withdraw personnel.
The Korean peninsula has been locked in a cycle of escalating military tensions since the North’s third nuclear test in February, which drew toughened UN sanctions.
Pyongyang’s bellicose rhetoric has reached fever pitch in recent weeks, with near-daily threats of attacks on US military bases and South Korea in response to ongoing South Korean-US military exercises.