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View more articles by Chad O'Carroll
Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.
China will suspend all tourists from entering North Korea through Pyongyang from April 30, an informed source told NK News on Thursday.
The suspension is being implemented as a direct result of a catastrophic bus accident in North Korea which led to the death of 32 Chinese nationals and four DPRK nationals on Sunday night.
The suspension, which will continue for an unknown period of time, is similar in character to a November 2017 ban which stopped PRC agencies selling tours to North Korea via Pyongyang, but allowed day-trips between border cities like Dandong and Sinuiju to continue.
The sudden tour suspension will impact a number of scheduled May Day tours, the source said, with Chinese agencies scrambling to contact citizens to inform them of the sudden news.
Travel industry sources told NK News on Monday that the bus had been carrying a group of Chinese travel company staff from Beijing at the time of the accident, with one source in China saying the crash took place as the bus returned to Pyongyang from the southern city of Kaesong.
The highway between Kaesong and Pyongyang is currently undergoing extensive renovation works, multiple sources told NK News last week, in preparation for Friday’s summit between Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made visits to the Chinese embassy in Pyongyang and a hospital early Monday morning and evening to express his condolences and visit the survivors of a recent tour bus crash, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Tuesday.
Two Chinese citizens were also reported to be in “a critical condition due to serious injury.”
Kim Jong Un saw the survivors and bodies of killed Chinese citizens off to Beijing on a special train which left Pyongyang sometime on Wednesday, state newspaper the Rodong Sinmun showed on Thursday.
Kim reportedly expressed his “sympathy and deep condolences” to Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party of China (CPC), the Chinese government, and the bereaved families of the victims.
“He said that the unexpected accident brought bitter sorrow to his heart and that he couldn’t control his grief at the thought of the bereaved families who lost their blood relatives,” the KCNA’s English-language report said.
In a Korean-language version of the report, Kim said the “unexpected unfortunate event broke his heart.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham