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North Korea earned tens of millions of dollars from foreign tourists in 2014, around half of the hard currency it won from the lucrative inter-Korean industrial park, a researcher said Sunday.


North Korea's income from foreign tourists is estimated at US$30.6 million to $43.6 million last year, considering about 95,000 Chinese tourists and 5,000 tourists from Western countries visited the country, Yoon In-ju of the Korea Maritime Institute said in a paper.


North Korea's annual income from the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North's border town of Kaesong, accommodating 124 South Korean firms that employ more than 50,000 North Korean workers, reached $86 million in 2014.


North Korea has launched a drive to woo foreign tourists since leader Kim Jong-un assumed power in 2011 by introducing a variety of tour packages that give participants sports, military and labor experiences.


North Korea, however, lacks enough infrastructure, such as transportation and lodgings, to attract foreign tourists, Yoon said, adding the North's policy of allowing only group tours and limiting tourist destinations also serve as obstacles to foreigners investing in infrastructure, as well as tourists.


(YONHAP NEWS AGENCY)