Russian Federation launches ferry connection with North Korea

Violet Tucker
May 20, 2017

A cargo and passenger ferry service linking Russian Federation and North Korea has been launched.

The Man Gyong Bong ferry, which includes a restaurant, two fully-stocked bars, a karaoke club and sauna facilities, left the port of Rajin in Rason, North Korea, on Wednesday, arrived in Russia's eastern Vladivostok city at 8 a m local time Thursday, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

The Man Gyong Bong was built in the "hermit kingdom" in 1971 and was a year ago chartered by RosKor and is owned by the Russian company InvestStroyTrest. Now, the North Korean passenger ferry has already docked in Vladivostok.

"While Russia is concerned about North Korea and its missiles, it also sees North Korea as an opportunity to gain leverage with the West, the U.S. in particular", said Matthew Chance, CNN Senior International Correspondent based in Moscow.

The weekly ferry service, between Vladivostok and the North Korean port of Rajin, is pitched at Chinese tourists wanting to travel by sea to Vladivostok, according to the operators.

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The ferry service comes amid heightened tension between North Korea and the USA over Pyongyang's missile tests and efforts to develop a nuclear arsenal.

The Port State Control Committee of the Asia-Pacific published 2016 data on North Korea merchant ships that indicate the vessels on average were found to have eight safety issues per ship.

"It is necessary that countries closely cooperate with each other to put pressure [on North Korea]", Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference on Thursday morning, referring to the Mangyongbong's arrival at the Russian port.

Despite UN sanctions ristricting North Korea due to it's nuclear program, it's expected that Chinese tourists will likely use the ferry service - which boasts a restaurant, bars and a karaoke room - to travel between North Korea and Russian Federation, according to BBC News. "Cargo will also move from China through North Korea, or from Russian Federation through North Korea".

Russia's close economic links with North Korea date back to the Cold War, when they were ideological allies hostile to the West.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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