In the News – N. Korean visitors to China rise drastically since last year: data
SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) — The number of North Korean visitors to China increased drastically since then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s tour of the North’s biggest communist ally early last year, Chinese government data shows.
The data on the entry of foreigners obtained Sunday by Yonhap News Agency showed that 152,000 North Koreans entered China in 2011, a sharp rise from 116,000 the previous year. Out of the total, 114,000 were businessmen and laborers.
The comparable figures were 116,000 in 2010, 103,000 in 2009, 101,000 in 2008, 113,000 in 2007 and 110,000 in 2006.
The sharp rise is attributed to the visit to China by late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in May last year, apparently to enhance bilateral economic cooperation.
The Beijing government said at the time that Kim was invited “so he could have the chance to grasp the developments in China and make the most of them for the development of North Korea.”
The number of North Korean visitors to China will likely increase further this year as China has received 88,000 North Koreans for the first six months this year alone.
The statistics comes amid reports North Korea’s new leader Kim Jong-un, who took over from his father Kim Jong-il after the senior Kim’s sudden death in December, might soon come up with measures for economic reform.
The young Swiss-educated leader has often stressed the need to catch up with global trends in upgrading the country’s industries.
His father was rarely reported to be talking about global trends and instead focusing on “juche,” or self-reliance, ideology during a 17-year iron-fist rule of the impoverished state with nuclear ambitions.
The 28-year-old Kim recently sacked the chief of the North’s 1.2 million-strong Army, has been seen with his wife at official functions and has had North Korean troupes perform in Western style costumes.