North Korea is set to launch its first casino cruise ship as it looks for innovative new ways to raise much needed funds. Under increasing financial pressure due to international sanctions imposed on them in the wake of recent nuclear tests and missile launches, North Korea is looking for around US$20 million worth of foreign investment to start the cruise line.
According to news outlet NK News, the plan is to operate a route from the Mount Kumgang tourist region through Southeast Asia and to Vladivostok in Russia. Weighing in at 30,000 tonnes, the ship would carry up to 1,000 passengers and include a foreigners-only casino.
“We are trying to diversify international tourism at the world-renowned Mount Kumgang by using cruise ship services,” said a statement on the region’s website. The specially created Mount Kumgang Tourist Region, established in 2002 as a major attraction for South Korean visitors, has looked more like a ghost town since a South Korean tourist was shot dead by guards in 2008. It remains to be seen whether North Korea’s casino cruise ship can breathe life back into it.