North Korea and Russia have agreed to start a ferry service between the two nations to develop links and boost economic cooperation. The ferry, Mangyongbong set sail from the North Korean port of Rajin to Vladivostok.

Mangyongbong’s operation as the Rajin-Vladivostok international tourist liner will make a positive contribution to developing marine transporteconomic cooperation and tourism between the two neighboring countries.

Russia, especially the port of Vladivostok is home to one of the largest overseas communities of North Korean in the world, as they send home much-needed hard currency each month. The ferry service can carry up to 200 passengers and 1.500 tons of cargo, six times per month between North Korea and Vladivostok.

This is the first service between North Korea and Russia over water, as transport via air and rail already exist. However most of Mangyongbong’s passengers are expected to be Chinese tourists who would be able to visit both Russia and North Korea in a single trip. 

The Mangyongbong was in service between North Kora and Japan before Tokyo suspended the operations in 2006, after a North Korean missile test. Japan is closely monitoring the situation as the first ferry service linking North Korea and Russia completes its maiden voyage.

Tokyo was quick to react to the latest development, as North Korea is reeling under intense economic sanctions imposed by the USA and the UN. Japan believes its necessary that all countries should exert pressure on North Korea for engaging Pyongyang in a dialogue.

However the USA has been discussing to impose possible new UN sanctions with China, but Russia believed, that while Moscow was opposed to any new countries acquiring nuclear weapons, the world should talk to North Korea rather than threatening and derailing it.

Built in 1971 and thoroughly refurbished in 2016, the vessel is expected to transport humanitarian aid from Russia and North Korea-made products in return.

Reuters / AA Magnum News 2017.

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