North Korea cancels press tour of special economic zone

SEOUL, Aug. 22 (UPI) — A press tour of the North Korean special economic zone of Rason was unexpectedly canceled, according to a source familiar with the country.

Paul Tjia, the chief executive of GPI Consultancy in the Netherlands, told Radio Free Asia Western journalists were planning to visit North Korea in late August, but the trip was canceled at the last minute.

North Korea has recently become more wary of admitting foreign journalists into the country than in previous years, Tjia said.

Gaining entry approval was difficult, he added.

Rason is located on the northeastern tip of the country. A new bridge that connects it to the Chinese city of Hunchun is expected to be complete by mid-September.

The group was to visit the city from Aug. 28 to Sept. 7, Tjia said.

The Dutch businessman said North Korea needs more exchanges with the outside world, in light of recent events. He plans to hold a conference on new policy toward North Korea in the Netherlands on Sept. 9, according to the report.

Another segment of the China-North Korea border has been tense due to a recent shootout that ended with the arrest of two runaway North Korean soldiers in China, according to South Korean news service New Focus.

North Korea had sent Chinese authorities a notice after two armed North Korean border guards crossed into China on Aug. 17.

North Korean soldiers were permitted to cross into China to search for the escaped guards, and Chinese frontier troops reportedly discovered the soldiers and arrested them near the Changbai mountain region.



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