ABOARD THE MANGYONGBYONG, North Korea - When you think of taking a cruise, usually it's the Bahamas, Fiji or the Maldives that generally come to mind. How about North Korea?
On Tuesday, the mysterious state launched itself into the glitzy world of cruise tourism when about 130 passengers set sail from the rundown port of Rajin, near the China-Russia border, for the scenic Mount Kumgang resort near the South Korean border.
Isolated North Korea's "state tourism bureau" has teamed up with a Chinese travel company to run the country's first ever cruise aboard an aging 9,700 ton vessel which once plied the waters off the east coast of the divided peninsula shuttling passengers between North Korea and Japan.
The ship was later used to transport cargo before Tokyo blocked its entry as part of economic sanctions over Pyongyang's missile and nuclear tests in 2006.