The Koreas

After Nearly 4 Year Gap, North Korea Begins Issuing Visas for Chinese Businesspeople

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After Nearly 4 Year Gap, North Korea Begins Issuing Visas for Chinese Businesspeople

However, visas are not being granted to Chinese nationals who want to visit North Korea for tourism or family reasons.

After Nearly 4 Year Gap, North Korea Begins Issuing Visas for Chinese Businesspeople
Credit: Depositphotos

North Korea has begun issuing visas to Chinese nationals again, around three years and 10 months after the government closed the border due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The authorities are prioritizing visas for Chinese traders, investors, and technicians.

On Saturday, Daily NK obtained a photo of a visa North Korea issued to a Chinese national in early December. The visa contains information such as the applicant’s passport number, destination, period of validity, period of sojourn, border entry point, date and place of issuance, and companions.

Considering the information and background image, the visa was the same as those the North Korean authorities issued before the border closure in January 2020.

North Korean authorities began accepting visa applications in early November from Chinese nationals with experience engaging in economic activity in North Korea, and started issuing visas about a month later from December 1. The North Korean embassy in Beijing and consulates in Shenyang, Dandong, and elsewhere in China are reportedly issuing the visas.

The visa obtained by Daily NK was for 90 days, though applicants can apply for longer visas depending on the purpose of their stay.

The visa specifies Pyongyang, Sinuiju, and the Tumen River as entry points. This suggests the visa holder can enter the country by plane through Pyongyang or by bus through Sinuiju from Dandong. They can also presumably enter through customs houses along the Tumen River, including Rason, Hoeryong and Musan.

North Korean authorities are currently issuing visas to Chinese investors, traders, and construction technicians only.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, a source in China told Daily NK that the North Korean authorities issued visas first to Chinese investors who put money into factories in North Korea producing clothes, shoes, construction materials, and other products.

By issuing visas, North Korean authorities may intend to normalize operations at factories Chinese people have invested in.

In particular, North Korea issued many visas to traders who used to deal with North Korean trading companies. They are expected to actively export North Korean products to China and import items into North Korea.

Given that the entry points include the Tumen River, China-North Korea trade may grow more vibrant in provincial areas if Chinese traders begin working in small provincial cities in places such as North Hamgyong Province and Yanggang Province.

It is interesting to note that the visas were also issued to Chinese construction technicians. Chinese nationals with skills related to construction glass, window frames, plastering, tiles, and other techniques reportedly received visas. These technicians will likely work on construction projects to build facilities for the Workers’ Party and the country’s elite or housing developments while teaching their North Korean counterparts the latest techniques.

However, North Korean authorities are not issuing visas to ordinary travelers or people visiting for personal reasons. “They are not issuing visas to individuals who want to visit for travel or to see family,” the source said. “Personal travel to North Korea won’t be possible for this year at least.”

This article first appeared in Daily NK, which contacts multiple sources inside and outside North Korea to verify information. The Diplomat was not able to verify the claims independently.