North Korea Launches Ferry Service to Russia's Far East

A scene from the Munsu Water Park in Pyongyang North Korea. Image by Laya Maheshwari. North Korea 2016

A scene from the Munsu Water Park in Pyongyang North Korea. Image by Laya Maheshwari. North Korea 2016

The ferry, the Mangyongbong, set sail from the North Korean port of Rajin, the North's KCNA news agency said.

Adm. Harry Harris Jr. made the remarks at a lecture for a Tokyo think-tank after meeting with Japanese leaders that he said focused on North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.

The service is pitched at Chinese tourists wanting to travel by sea to the Pacific port of Vladivostok, according to the operators.

He also obliquely criticized China for throwing up obstacles to the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, where Beijing has constructed island bases in the disputed waters, saying "we should fly, be able to fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows".

China has no ports on the sea of Japan, so travelling to North Korea and on to Vladivostok is the quickest way of reaching Vladivostok by sea."It's our business, of our company, without any state subsidies, involvement and help", Mikhail Khmel, the deputy director of Investstroytrest, the Russian Federation firm operating the ferry, told reporters at the port.

A cargo and passenger ferry service linking Russian Federation and North Korea has been launched.

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North Korea has celebrated the successful launch of a new type of intermediate-range ballistic missile, called the Hwasong-12, by inviting its developers to Pyongyang, the North's state-run newswire said Friday.

Baranov said 60 tourists from China had booked a trip on the next boat, which reportedly has 40 cabins, several bars and a karaoke room. Even during the Soviet time, when the ties between the USSR and North Korea were more active, there weren't any cargo-passenger services between Vladivostok and North Korea, he said.

On Sunday, the Hwasong-12 was sacked from Kusong, North Pyongan Province, and dropped into the East Sea after flying 787 kilometers eastward, the North claimed.

Washington is looking to toughen United Nations sanctions to cut off Pyongyang's sources of funding and to block smuggling of materials needed for its weapons programmes. The company expects that most of its passengers will be Chinese tourists, which will be able to visit both Russia's Primorye region and North Korea during one trip.

This week the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said he was against expanding the "club of nuclear powers ... but we must stop intimidating North Korea".

The ferry's Russian operator, Investstroytrest, said it was purely a commercial venture that was developed with no subsidies or involvement from Moscow.

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