Russian tourists head for N.Korea in another sign of closer ties

About 100 Russians have reportedly become the first overseas tourists to visit North Korea in years. The trip comes after the leaders of the two countries vowed to deepen bilateral ties.

The group departed on Friday from Vladivostok in Russia's Far East.

The travel agency that organized the tour says the number of participants far exceeded expectations.

The tourists will reportedly visit Pyongyang and a ski resort in the east.

South Korean media say they are the first foreign sightseers to enter North Korea since the country tightened border controls in 2020 as part of measures against the coronavirus.

Moscow and Pyongyang's long-held friendship has grown stronger since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

North Korea is said to have supplied weapons to Russia, and the two countries are also deepening cooperation on the economic front.

North Korea uses tourism as a means of obtaining foreign currencies. Sightseeing in the country does not fall under United Nations sanctions against the regime.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to solidify ties when they met in September.