May 17, 2017 10:55 pm JST

North Korea launches ferry service to Russia's far east

SEOUL(Reuters) -- North Korea launched a ferry service to the Russian city of Vladivostok on Wednesday to develop links and boost economic cooperation, the North's state media said, as it faces increasing isolation over its weapons development.

Experts have said North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, may be hoping closer ties with Russia would help if China, the North's main economic benefactor, steps up sanctions against it over its weapons programmes, in defiance of U.N. resolutions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that while Moscow was opposed to any new countries acquiring nuclear weapons, the world should talk to North Korea rather than threaten it.

The ferry, the Mangyongbong, set sail from the North Korean port of Rajin, the North's KCNA news agency said.

"Mangyongbong's operation as the Rajin-Vladivostok international tourist liner will make a positive contribution to developing marine transport and economic cooperation and tourism between the two countries," it added.

The Russian consul general based in the nearby city of Chongjin saw the ferry off, it said.

The Mangyongbong was in service between the North and Japan before Japan suspended its operations in 2006 after a North Korean missile test.

North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Sunday that landed in the sea near Russia.

The United States has been discussing possible new U.N. sanctions with China, which disapproves of the North's development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to deliver them.

Russia, especially the port of Vladivostok, is home to one of the largest overseas communities of North Koreans in the world, and they send home many thousands of dollars in much-needed hard currency each month.

The ferry service is expected to carry up to 200 passengers and 1,000 tonnes of cargo six times a month between North Korea and Vladivostok.

Get Insights on Asia In Your Inbox

To read the full story, Subscribe or Log in

Get your first month for $0.99

Redeemable only through the Subscribe button below

Once subscribed, you can…

  • Read all stories with unlimited access (5 articles per month without subscription)
  • Use our smartphone and tablet apps

To read the full story, Subscribe or Log in

3 months for $9
SUBSCRIBE TODAY

Take advantage of this limited offer.
Subscribe now to get unlimited access to all articles.

To read the full story, Update your account

Resubscribe now to continue reading.
BEST OFFER:
Only US$ 9.99 per month for a full-year subscription

To read the full story, Subscribe or Log in

Once subscribed, you can…

  • Read all stories with unlimited access (5 articles per month without subscription)
  • Use our smartphone and tablet apps

To read the full story, Subscribe or Log in

3 months for $9
SUBSCRIBE TODAY

Take advantage of this limited offer.
Subscribe now to get unlimited access to all articles.

To read the full story, Update your account

We could not renew your subscription.
You need to update your payment information.