Tourists flock to North Korea and Guam despite nuclear tensions

Chinese tourists continue to flock to North Korea despite escalating tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.

Few have expressed concern over North Korea’s missile tests in recent months, which led the United Nations Security Council on Saturday to impose tough new sanctions against Pyongyang.

The country’s leader Kim Jong-un was reportedly briefed yesterday about plans to fire missiles at US military bases on the Pacific island of Guam.

US defence secretary James Mattis warned that a North Korean missile fired at the US “could escalate into war very quickly”.

Meanwhile, Guam’s tourism board continues to encourage tourists to visit the “island paradise” despite the threat from North Korea.

Josh Tyquiengco, public information officer at the Guam Visitors Bureau, said the island – home to more than 160,000 US citizens – had been assured by officials that it was “safe and protected”.

“That’s the message we are continuing to send out to our residents and visitors,” he told the i newspaper.

“There is some concern about the North Korea threat here in Guam, but for the most part, people are calm and carrying on with their daily schedules.”

Guam attracted 132,952 visitors in July, an 8.1% year-on-year increase. The figure surpassed the previous record held ten years ago to become the best July in Guam’s tourism history.

China’s tourism authority has not published a breakdown of the total number of Chinese visitors to North Korea since 2012, when it said 237,000 made the trip.

But the number travelling just from Dandong rose to 580,000 in the second half of 2016 alone, according to the state-run China News Service. The report said 85% of Chinese tourists to North Korea originated from Dandong.

That is still only a fraction of the 8 million Chinese who visited South Korea in 2016, Reuters reported.

Travellers can take ferries or charter speedboats down the Yalu to view North Korean villages and patrolling border guards.

One tour operator targeting wealthier, more adventurous tourists said it was receiving more inquiries in recent weeks over whether it was safe to travel.

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