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North Korean Border Town, Sinuiju Now Open to Western Tourists

Travelers Today       By    Natasha Hanano

Updated: May 22, 2013 03:00 PM EDT

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A North Korean border town is now accessible to tourists who want to visit the area. CNN reported that Sinuiju is North Korea's largest border town and it is separated by a river from Dandong City in China.

From Dangdong City visitors can choose to drive or take a train to the border town. Sinuiju has been a popular place for Chinese tourists but was virtually impossible for Western tourists to enter there until recently.

Simon Cockerel is the general manager of Beijing-based Koryo Tours which is one of the biggest tour compaies that goes to North Korea. Cockerel said to CNN that letting Western Tourists into the area has occurred because of ten years of lobbying.

 "We've been putting pressure on them for years, and we believed Sinuiju in particular would be easier to gain access to because of all the tourist infrastructure already in place, and because the people there are used to seeing foreign visitors," he told CNN.

On Cockerel's tour are a number of historic sites and interesting places. Historic monuments, parks, mosaics, the railway station and a provincial revolutionary museum are all places that Cockerel's takes visitors.

His tour companies believes that the town will become popular to Westerners because of its different vibe and the fact that it is cheaper.

"Until now, you had to go in for a minimum of at least three days but Sinuiju can be a day trip as well as an add-on to other North Korea tours," said Gareth Johnson, the founder of Young Pioneer Tours.

Cockerel notes that the town has a different vibe than other cities in North Korea. "It's an interesting town and there's definitely a border town vibe," Cockerell said to CNN. "It's not a very well-off place, especially compared to Pyongyang, which is the richest place in North Korea."

Johnson told CNN that his company Young Pioneer Tours has also been part of the lobbying for Sinuiju to open for tourists.

"My personal opinion is that this came about because China stopped all Chinese tours to North Korea due to recent tensions," Johnson told CNN.

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