Cruising North Korea

Brown water in the cabins, mattresses on the floor, and karaoke

Cruising the Hermit Kingdom

Goh Chai Hin/AFP/Getty Images

For tourists who have gone everywhere and done everything, North Korea has launched the next must-do opportunity: a unique cruise down its scenic eastern seaboard. The trip starts from the economically depressed Rason economic zone near the northern Russian-Chinese border and meanders southward for 21 hours before the tourists are dropped off at the scenic Mount Kumyang resort. The inaugural media launch last week featured a choreographed dance, lots of kids waving fake flowers and even some fireworks. The menu featured plenty of local cuisine, especially dried fish, and karaoke was the entertainment, but the rest of the cruise amenities were a tad spartan.

On the first official sailing of the cruise ship—a rusting former ferry—some cabins were furnished with mattresses on the floor, while most below-deck bathrooms lacked water, which ran brown in other cabins. Still, officials of the secretive, impoverished nation hope the cruise will be so successful that next year they can rent a bigger and better ship.

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