Official Visitor Numbers Hit New High

China’s National Tourism Administration has revealed that the number of North Koreans legally visiting the country reached a new high in 2011.

According to a report carried by Voice of America yesterday, the 152,300 North Koreans who visited China last year exceeded the 2010 figure of 116,400 by more than 30%, and comfortably beat the previous high of 125,800 recorded in 2005.

Approximately half (75,266) the total number of visitors apparently went for work, while a further 39,042 went for business purposes or to attend meetings. 4,589 were tourists. However, the statistics show that just 99 of the visits were for the purpose of visiting relatives.

72,885 of the visitors were age 45 through 64, while a further 64,823 fell into the 25 to 44 bracket. Women were heavily outnumbered by men; 21,828 against 130,472.

It is important to note that while the statistics provide a point of interest and could be used as an indicator of increasing formal bilateral linkages between North Korea and China; however, they do not include informal visits including those made for purposes of defection or smuggling and thus do not come close to reflecting the true volume of cross-border travel.