North Korea’s national airline, Air Koryo, stunned passengers and journalists alike when it abruptly cancelled its first commercial flight since the start of the pandemic. Journalists had gathered at Beijing International Airport in anticipation of the flight’s arrival from Pyongyang, only to find it marked as cancelled on the arrivals board.
Beijing airport customer service confirmed that Air Koryo had not provided a reason for the cancellation. Meanwhile, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson acknowledged the approval to restart commercial flights between Beijing and Pyongyang, but did not offer any additional information regarding the sudden cancellation.
Curiosity led AFP reporters to visit Air Koryo’s Beijing office in search of answers, but they were met with little information. Instead, they were directed to the North Korean ruling party newspaper for accurate details.
Recent events have hinted at a potential shift in North Korea’s openness to the outside world. Chinese and Russian officials attended a military parade in North Korea, and a delegation of athletes even traveled to Kazakhstan. These developments suggest that Pyongyang may be slowly becoming more open.
Seoul’s unification ministry, responsible for handling inter-Korean relations, expressed its lack of knowledge regarding the flight cancellation. Uncertain whether it signifies a comprehensive reopening of North Korea’s borders or a limited and controlled opening, officials are closely monitoring developments.
In the midst of this uncertainty, it has been reported by NK News that Air Koryo is preparing to conduct flights from Vladivostok to Pyongyang in the coming days. This development adds further intrigue to the situation, leaving many wondering about the motives behind the sudden cancellation and whether it signifies a more significant change in North Korea’s stance towards international travel.
As the news unfolds, the world’s attention will undoubtedly remain fixated on North Korea and its intricate web of political and diplomatic changes. The cancelled commercial flight and the upcoming flights from Vladivostok are just two more chapters in the ongoing saga of North Korea’s evolving relationship with the outside world.
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