Tuesday, May 26, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Honeymoon In North Korea?


PYONGYANG, North Korea - Planning a honeymoon and don't know where to go? North Korea's communist government has just the tour for you.

In dire need of hard currency now that neighboring Russia and China insist on payments in cash instead of coal, North Korea is hoping to expand its $100 million tourism industry.

The lure? A chance to visit one of the world's last communist dictatorships - the "people's paradise" of Great Leader President Kim Il Sung - for as little as $723 per newlywed plus air fare.

"We have struggled hard to meet the needs of tourists who come to this country," says Kim Do Jun, director of the Bureau of Tourism Promotion.

Couples on Korea International Travel Bureau's five-day honeymoon tour of Pyongyang get flowers, champagne and dinner in their room at the 45-story Koryo Hotel.

The tour includes visits to a wedding hall, maternity hospital (hint, hint) and kindergarten.

An eight-day honeymoon tour, for $945 per person, features Mount Myohyang (Fantastic Fragrance), a romantic supper on a flower-festooned boat, a not-quite-so-romantic tour of an irrigation dam and a circus performance featuring boxing bears.

But there's no escaping the ideological barrage that comes with any trip to Kim Il Sung country.

Every visitor is obliged to visit Manyongdae (Ten-Thousand Views Hill), a garden housing the tidy farm cottage of Kim's childhood. Many are taken to majestic Mount Paekdu, where the key attraction is the rustic birthplace of 50-year-old Kim Jong Il, the Great Leader's son and designated successor.

Tourism official Kim Do Jun said the government eventually plans to allow individual travelers, but for now, only group tours are available.

U.S. residents must apply through a third country's North Korean Embassy or the Korea International Tourist Bureau for a visa.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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