“State Owned Hotels Out of Business, Private Hotels Springing Up”

[imText1]Recently, with the increasing number of businessmen and travelers, the lodging business is springing up in North Korea.

An anonymous Chinese who resides in Pakchun-gun or North Pyongan province said, “The state still maintains the hotel business, but there is an increase in private hotels with better facilities. The hotels are mainly for the Chinese customers and the cost is about 5000 Won ($2.5) a night.”

“The state-run hotels do not have good heating systems and lack management, customers rarely go there. There is also an increase of the house lodging business,” he said and further described how those who do private house lodging businesses come out at night to call customers into their houses. The cost of lodging is 100 Won ($0.05) a night.

State Agents, Extracting Money from Issuing Travel Permits

“It even costs to issue a travel permit,” said the Chinese man. “In the beginning it did not cost any money, but with increasing corruption, the government officials from the municipal administrative office (the People’s Committee) or district administrative office (in charge of issuing travel permits) ask for money as if it were legal.”

For this reason, it costs more than 10,000 Won ($5) to get a travel permit to go to Pyongyang from Pakchun. From one province to another, it costs around 6,000 Won ($3) to 8,000 Won ($4). The usual cost varies according to destination, for example, it costs to get to Jagang Province 7,000 Won ($3.5), Chongjin 8,000 Won, and Pyongsung 6,000 Won. Within a province, a travel permit costs a lot less, for example, from Pakchun to Shinuiju is 500 Won($0.25). Only the cost of the travel permit to Pyongyang is fixed at 10,000 Won and for other places, it varies.

The external travel permit to China is valid for one month, and an extension is not allowed. The cost is about $100 to $200 for both the passport and the visa, the faster you pay faster you get them issued. The official cost set by the government for the external travel permit is 20,000 Won ($10).

Those with Chinese nationality visit North Korea with travel permits; extensions are permitted but it costs $100 a night. Those who have connections in the National Security Office or other government agencies pay $50 a day. Since it costs so much, unless there is an emergency, people rarely extend the days of their visit.

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