In retrospect, said Vladimir Bogdanov, it wasn’t the best time to start the first passenger-ship service between Russia and North Korea shortly before Kim Jong Un shocked the world by announcing he’s successfully tested a missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland.
“We were in a hurry, thinking we’d be too late. We should have slowed down,” said Bogdanov, who’s organized nine trips since May between Russia’s far east port of Vladivostok and Rajin in North Korea’s Rason special economic zone. “Still, there’s no turning back” for the service, which is loss-making so far after filling at best a quarter of its 193 places each time, he said.
Economic ties between Russia and North Korea, which share a narrow land border, are similarly beleagured, with trade down for a third year to just $77 million in 2016, according to the Russian customs service.
While the volume is small, it’s becoming