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Air Koryo increases Pyongyang-Beijing flights

Apr 06,2017
North Korea’s state-run flag carrier, Air Koryo, has raised its weekly number of flights on the Pyongyang-Beijing route from four to five, a sign that the two neighbors are growing cozier amid stronger sanctions from the rest of the world against Kim Jong-un and his regime.

VOA reported the change Wednesday, based on information from Google Flight, a website that tracks global air flights and prices. It was not the first time North Korea decided to run an extended five flights from Pyongyang to Beijing in a week.

It did so for a couple of months last year during summer break when demand among foreign travelers was on the rise, according to VOA. The latest measure was unexpected, however, because April is not the normal vacation month.

The latest news comes two weeks after Dandong International Airport announced March 21 it would allow Air Koryo to newly operate flights linking the Chinese city with Pyongyang, saying the decision was based on growing demand among Chinese.

It was the airport’s first time to provide travel routes to the North, although other Chinese airports have been doing so.

Air Koryo’s growing presence in the bilateral tourism scene is alarming for both Seoul and Washington, which both blacklisted the air carrier late last year in each of their unilateral sanctions.

While announcing the measures, the U.S. Treasury Department said Air Koryo reportedly transported from Pyongyang spare parts or items used in Scud-B missile systems, which the UN prohibits exporting to North Korea.

Kim, the country’s ruler, was also said to have access to a private jet decorated with the company’s logo.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]