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Border islands attracting tourists after inter-Korean summit

All Headlines 11:12 May 16, 2018

INCHEON, May 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's northernmost islands bordering North Korea are emerging as tourist attractions in the wake of the recent inter-Korean summit talks.

Yeonpyeong Island, among others, will have a new observation tower within the year, where tourists can look at a North Korean village directly, and some parts of Gangwha Island will be developed for security-themed tourism, the city of Incheon, which has jurisdiction over the locations, said Wednesday.

This file photo shows a South Korean tourist looking at a North Korean village through a telescope at an observation tower on Gangwha Island. (Yonhap)

Yeonpyeong attracted 35,000 tourists in both 2011 and 2012, after it was bombarded by the North in 2010, when it saw 22,700 visitors.

But the annual figure dived to 19,400 in 2014 in the wake of a ferry disaster in the nation's southern waters, and was 21,400 in 2015, when Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) hit the nation hard.

"The number of tourists visiting Yeonpyeng Island is expected to soar again owing to the summit talks between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month," a city official said.

Tourists are also flocking to Gangwha Island, just 1.8 km from the North's Yeonbaek County.

About 3,300 people visited the island's observation tower during the first weekend after the summit talks, up 30 percent from the preceding weekends, the official said.

This file photo shows a house on Yeonpyeong Island destroyed by North Korea's bombardment in 2010. (Yonhap)

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