Air Koryo suspends 'Pyongyang-Dandong' route

Kim Ga Young  |  2017-05-20 09:33
Flights previously offered by North Koreas national airline Air Koryo between the Chinese city of Dandong and North Koreas Pyongyang appear to have been suspended.

As of May 16, Dandong had disappeared from the list of destinations offered on the homepage of Air Koryo. The only remaining air routes between China and North Korea are now between Pyongyang-Beijing and Pyongyang-Shenyang. According to Yonhap News Agency, the Beijing office of Air Koryo stated, "There are no flights offered between Dandong-Pyongyang for the time being."

A spokesperson for China's Dandong Langtou Airport previously announced the offering of flights of chartered planes between Dandong and Pyongyang from March 28 due to an alleged increase in demand from Chinese tourists visiting North Korea. 

At the time of the announcement, the Liaoning Provincial government widely promoted the new route with placards reading, 'Celebration of the opening of Dandong-Pyongyang international air route' in the vicinity of Dandong station, including along Jinshan Dajie road. (link article

However, the open promotion by the regional Chinese government for North Koreas state airline drew criticism from the international community, as the UN had voted to impose sanctions on regime. The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) also listed Air Koryo Airline as a sanctioned entity in December last year, due to accusations that the airline has contributed to the development of North Korea's weapons of mass destruction and controversial overseas labor dispatches.

The sudden suspension of the Dandong-Pyongyang route is being pointed to by some as a demonstration of China's will to strengthen sanctions against the North. China also temporarily suspended Air China's flight route between Beijing and Pyongyang in April as a part of its sanctions measures.

The measures are also thought to have been influenced by North Korea's recent provocations including the launch of a 'Hwasong-12' intermediate-range ballistic missile. It was seen as an affront to China, as it occurred during the 'Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation' hosted by Beijing on May 14.

China also contributed to the drafting of a UNSC statement issued on May 15 regarding North Korea's recent launch of ballistic missiles. The statement reads: "We strongly condemn the most recent ballistic missile launches conducted by the DPRK. The DPRK should demonstrate its efforts to denuclearize through specific actions and not conduct further nuclear or missile provocations."

In regards to this, a spokesperson for South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "All UNSC countries including China and Russia were united in clarifying their firm position in response to North Korea's provocations."

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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