According to ARY News, North Korea is looking to offer healthcare treatments for foreign visitors, likely those from China, in 2020. Private tourism is one of the few remaining areas of business not blocked by sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs, however the country is still struggling to provide even basic healthcare.
The article suggests that the foreign patients will most likely come from China, and the treatments offered will include cataract surgery, dental implants and therapy for tumors.
The article says that North Korea’s ruling party’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper has reported the launch of the “Treatment Tourism Exchange Corporation”, aimed at capitalising on the “rising demand for tourism, including medical care, in line with an international trend”. The new state entity will operate health clinics near hot springs, whose mineral waters, it said, can help treat neuralgia, arthritis, and heart and skin ailments.
The article claims that some analysts think as many as 350,000 Chinese tourists have visited North Korea in 2019, potentially netting the authorities up to US$175 million.
The article quotes Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean studies in Seoul, who described the medical tourism campaign as propaganda designed at showing progress, while adding that it could appeal to some Chinese tourists. The article also pointed out that North Korea is still struggling to provide basic healthcare.