April 19 (UPI) — A North Korea cargo-passenger ferry once anchored at a port is to begin a route to Vladivostok, Russia.
Japanese newspaper The Nikkei reported Wednesday the ship is to resume service despite economic sanctions that have banned North Korean ships from traveling to other nearby countries, including Japan.
The Man Gyong Bong 92 was originally built to transport passengers and cargo between Japan and North Korea, but service was suspended following North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006.
In 2011 the ferry began to be used to carry tourists from China to the Mount Kumgang resort region, but by 2014 the ship was in a rusted state and permanently docked at Rajin port, according to photos taken by Russian journalists at the time.
Vladimir Baranov, director general of InvestStroiTrest, said the Man Gyong Bong route will be launched on May 9, departing from the North Korean port city of Rajin and arriving in Vladivostok six times a month, according to the report.
The ship sailing on May 9 is expected to transport North Korean and Chinese tourists to Vladivostok for a Russian celebration of its victory in World War II.
Russia and North Korea have taken other steps to deepen bilateral relations.
In March the two countries signed a “labor immigration agreement,” which could expand the presence of North Korean forced laborers in Russia.
Russia is one of the top destinations for North Korea workers, who are sent to work in labor-intensive industries in the country to earn foreign currency for the Kim Jong Un regime.