In an effort to create more activities for his people and foreign tourism companies, North Korea leader Kim Jung Un has reportedly allowed a Pyongyang flight club to fly citizens and tourists over the capital city, the Associated Press reported.
Running since July, the flights on “ultralight” aircraft fly over some of Pyongyang’s biggest sites like Kim II Sung Square, the Munsu Water Park and the May Day stadium, according to the AP. The flights can cost as much as $150 for longer trips to $65 for shorter ones. The trips also reach an altitude of roughly 6,500 feet.
North Korean officials have said more than 4,000 citizens have climbed Pyongyang’s skies along with “hundreds” of foreigners from 12 countries, according to the AP.
Compared to the other headlines North Korea’s made of late, the flights are likely some good news for North Koreans. The people are denied access to any materials (like books, music, or television) deemed unsuitable by Kim’s authoritarian government, which has faced increased criticism for its recent weapons and missile tests.
The flights are also a boon to tourists who often visit museums or other closely monitored areas. Previously, the best view a tourist or North Korean could have was from the 492-foot tower in Kim II Sung Square.
However, while North Korea loosened its travel policy in 2010 to allow visitors from the United States, the State Department has consistently put out travel warnings to all U.S. citizens and asked they not attempt to visit North Korea. The department’s official site says at least 14 U.S. citizens have been detained in North Korea over the last 10 years and that even being part of a tour group cannot ensure safety.
And there still are travel restrictions, or difficulties, for Americans to enter North Korea. Unlike visitors from China, who can take trains directly to the mainland, U.S. tourists must travel by plane, according to CNN. And while journalists will have a tough time gaining visas, most other U.S. citizens can be approved for a visa with little trouble.