KUALA LUMPUR: North Korea’s national carrier Air Koryo will resume its Pyongyang-Kuala Lumpur (KL) services beginning Aug 4, 2013, coinciding with the Arirang festival, the annual majestic dance and gymnastics performances.
The airline began its historic inaugural flight in mid-April 2011, but services were temporarily halted because of poor passenger volume as tourists shied away from the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK) or often called as North Korea.
“Due to the situation in Korean Peninsula, tourists did not feel save to travel. But situation has changed now, so we have decided to re-launch the service.
“We want more Malaysians and South-East Asian tourists to visit our country,” Pak Kyong Nam, MD of the DPR Korea Tourism Sdn Bhd, told The Malaysian Reserve in Kuala Lumpur last week.
The airline will deploy the new generation of Russian-made Tupoley 100/300 series aircraft to fly from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to Sunan Airport in Pyongyang, the nation’s capital.
The weekly direct flight is scheduled for every Sunday from KLIA and travel time will be about seven hours.
The national flag carrier was founded in 1955, then named Chosonminhang and renamed Air Koryo in 1992, is the maiden carrier to link Kuala Lumpur and Pyongyang.
Between 2002 and 2010, nearly 10,000 Malaysian visitors toured North Korea and about 30,000 international tourists, mainly from China and Europe, visited North Korea annually.
“Every year tourists arrival to DPRK is doubling and we are targeting more tourists from South-East Asia. The world mass media had given a negative image of our country.
We want people to come and see for themselves the real situation in the Korean Peninsula.
“DPRK has a great potential for tourism with lots of peculiar attractions, especially representing the country of socialist system,” said Pak.
The KL-based DPRK’s regional tourism office represents the state-owned National Tourism Administration (NTA) and the Korea International Travel Co, which promotes tourism and responsible for international tours respectively.
The Malaysian office is in charge of issuing visas and related travel permits for tourists. DPRK set up NTA in 1986 to promote tourism and began to woo foreigners to the scenic land.
Some 100,000 DPRK nationals participate in the spectacular Arirang mass games that is hosted from August to September every year, which has turned into a major tourist attraction.