The North Korean leader has changed a lot and has become more humane. Instead of threatening the United States with a nuclear attack, he is now grieving for Chinese Tourists who were killed in a bus accident near the capital. The bus plunged off a bridge and 32 Chinese tourists and four North Koreans lost their lives in the tragedy.

Daily Mail UK reports that Kim Jong-un met the Chinese ambassador in Pyongyang in person and conveyed his condolences to the families after which he proceeded to the hospital to meet and console the survivors.

The local media gave prominence to the news

Departure from traditions

The bus was carrying a group of tourists from Kaesong to Pyongyang and the reasons for the accident are under investigation. The roads in North Korea are not in a good condition and vehicles face problems. They have to take alternate routes when they encounter unpassable bridges. However, the route between Pyongyang and Kaesong is believed to be one of the best. It runs from the Chinese border to the Demilitarized Zone on the South Korean border and the volume of traffic is also less.

Kaesong is known for its historical sites and used to have a manufacturing complex operated with South Korea – the workers were from the North and the investments were from the South.

The actions taken by Kim Jong-un reveal the importance of China and its tourists to his country and economy. Beijing is a major ally and serves as a political buffer in the global scenario. Of course, China took a hard stand and enforced UN Security Council sanctions against the North because of its continued missile launches.

However, things appeared to have quietened down after Kim made a sudden visit to Beijing and met Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Tourism in North Korea

North Korea has tourism potential and the bulk of tourists come from China. There are flights, apart from road and rail connectivity, and the numbers add up to tens of thousands every year.

The train comes through the Chinese border city of Dandong.

The number of Western visitors is comparatively less. It used to be in the region of 5,000 annually but has declined after the United States imposed a travel ban. Americans used to account for nearly 20 percent of tourists.

Pyongyang has to realize that tourism can play a significant role in developing its economy. North Korea has attractive tourist spots that can woo outsiders. Kim Jong-un may exploit such opportunities because they will help to bring his country out of isolation to join the mainstream.