First ferry service between Russian Federation and N Korea starts

North Korea is set to launch a ferry service that will transport passengers back and forth to Russia, BBC News reports.

North Korean ferry Man Gyong Bong-92 anchors at the central pier of the Niigata port, 250 kilometres (155 miles) north of Tokyo, 04 September 2003.

The trip marks the beginning of a once-weekly regular cargo-passenger service, TASS added.

The company said most of the passengers will be Chinese tourists looking to visit Russia's Primorye region and North Korea during one trip-the locations are very close to the eastern China border with North Korea and Russian Federation.

The Man Gyong Bong was built in the "hermit kingdom" in 1971 and was a year ago chartered by RosKor and is owned by the Russian company InvestStroyTrest.

Khmel said the vessel will make the return sailing on May 19.

Chinese tourists find Mangyongbong extremely interesting, they expect to use the service to visit communist North Korea and Russian Federation, legendary countries.

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Russian state channel rossiya showed the ship in the Vladivostok port early today, saying locals were not permitted to get close due to a security incident over a found unclaimed bag.

The Mangyongbong used to regularly shuttle between Japan and North Korea.

The news comes as tensions have spiked on the Korean peninsula over Pyongyang's test launch of a ballistic missile, with Washington saying the country's weapons development should be treated "with a sense of urgency".

"While Russia is concerned about North Korea and its missiles, it also sees North Korea as an opportunity to gain leverage with the West, the U.S. in particular", said Matthew Chance, CNN Senior International Correspondent based in Moscow.

"It is necessary that countries closely cooperate with each other to put pressure [on North Korea]", Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference on Thursday morning, referring to the Mangyongbong's arrival at the Russian port.

Now, with Russian Federation and China practically the only states prepared to deal with North Korea, travel companies from the two countries are attempting to establish tourist links according to various press releases.

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