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Russian tourists embark on 1st post-COVID group trip to N. Korea

Russian tourists on Friday departed for their first group trip to North Korea since the pandemic amid deepening ties between the two countries. A total of 97 Russian nationals were expected to join the four-day trip that will take them to Pyongyang and the Masikryong Ski Resort in the North's eastern region, according to the Russian news agency TASS. They are the first group of foreign tourists to enter the North since the country reopened its border in August last year after more than three years and six months of closure. The international terminal in the Vladivostok International Airport was bustling Friday morning with tourists getting ready to board the Air Koryo JS-272 flight scheduled to depart for Pyongyang on Friday afternoon. The airplane departed at 1:39 p.m. People presumed to be North Korean officials and residents, wearing a pin of the North Korean flag, were also spotted, raising speculation they may board the same airplane. The latest trip comes amid deepening ties between the two countr ies after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in a rare summit last year. In December, Oleg Kozhemyako, the governor of Russia's far eastern region of Primorsky Krai, visited Pyongyang for talks on bilateral cooperation in the fields of tourism, trade and agriculture. In a recent letter sent to the Russian embassy in Pyongyang, Kozhemyako was quoted as saying the group trip will mark the beginning of a resumption of cooperation in tourism and development of humanitarian ties between the two countries. Source: Yonhap News Agency