North Korea ferry service docks in Russia on inaugural trip

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The first ever ferry service linking Russian Federation and North Korea was launched on Thursday, the company operating it said, hoping to serve tourists and North Korean workers. The North Korean ferry made its second port call here in nine days as the Stalinist state is rushing shipments of necessities in time for next week's 55 anniversary of its founding.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has expressed concern to Russian Federation over the ferry service starting up at a time when North Korea is subject to sanctions over its repeated nuclear and missile tests in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions.

The Man Gyong Bong 92 left the North Korean port of Rajin on Wednesday evening with about 40 passengers on a trial run.

"It's our business, of our company, without any state subsidies, involvement and help", Mikhail Khmel, the deputy director of Investstroytrest, the Russian Federation firm operating the ferry, told reporters.

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia A new ferry between isolated North Korea and Russia docked for the first time at the Pacific port of Vladivostok on Thursday, in spite of US calls for countries to curtail relations with Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programmes. "The vessel will be on the way back on May 19", said Mikhail Khmel, deputy director general of Investstroytrest, which owns the route's operator.

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A regular cargo-passenger service connects the ports of Russian Federation and North Korea for the first time.

Russia, especially the port of Vladivostok, is home to one of the largest overseas communities of North Koreans, who send home much-needed hard currency.

Anyone willing to embark on the Rajin-Vladivostok cruise will have to pay 600-750 Yuans ($87-101), depending on cabin class.

This is the first service between North Korea and Russian Federation via water as transport via air and rail already exist.

The North's armed forces ministry ordered the army to take steps to protect gallery strongholds from air raids in mid-April, Radio Free Asia (RFA) said, citing the Osaka-based North Korea specialist news organ Asia Press. They envisage a complete ban on all export and import operations with North Korea, including through third countries.

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