UnNews:Tourists in North Korea face new anthem tax

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5 January 2011

Pyongyang1
Normally bustling Pyongyang is quiet since January 1st

PYONGYANG, North Korea -- Kim Jong Il has ordered a new visa requirement and a new tax on tourists vacationing in the capital.

As of January 1, nonresidents of Pyongyang, which is the only place in North Korea that tourists can visit, must sing the Aegukka National Anthem when staying at a hotel or visiting any brothel or tourist site, such as a museum, a restaurant, or a torture chamber. Tourists must also belt it out whenever so requested by authorities. Hotels, however, express fears that it could hurt their business and scare tourists away.

Pak Pong Ju, premier of the DPRK, introduced the measures last year after the South conducted live-fire exercises across the border. The South Korean government, together with the United States, has been training as part of intimidation and retribution measures aimed at the North.

The new tax is 3 euros ($4) per person per recital in four- and five-star hotels and 2 euros ($2.70) per recital in lower categories, such as Commie titty bars. The new law applies not only to all foreign tourists, but also to South Korean tourists and business travelers who are not Pyongyang residents. It makes no exception for small children, babies, or the tone-deaf. Pyongyang, literally: "Flat Land", the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is located on the popular and cosmopolitan Taedong River.

Dong Mu, a hooker at the Iron Fist Brothel, a red-star cathouse in central Pyongyang, said she is not in favor of the new measure. "We and other hookers we've spoken to don't like it at all," Mu said. "It asks our clients to do something they don't want to do and to pay something they don’t want to pay. And especially because the way we have to do it is out of the Middle Ages -- only cash and song -- and separate from the brothel and other billings."

She pointed out that a group of four visiting her brothel must pay an extra 12 euros a night with the new tax, a cost that can start to add up after a few nights. Not to mention the bother of brothel visitors having to actually recite the anthem each time.

"The law penalizes us, the brothels, hotels, and restaurants, and it will certainly hurt us during the current low season," Mu said. "I hope it doesn't scare away trendy tourists."

North Korea, ranked #1 in the 2010 list of "worst places on Earth," gets about 30 tourists per year.

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