Chinese tourists visit a beach in North Korea. Chinese state television reported that North Korea opened its roads earlier this month for the first ever self-driven Chinese tour of the country. Around 100 tourists drove in a convoy of 24 cars, which the tour operator explained had to be suitable for travel in North Korea. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) MANAGER OF THE JILIN PROVINCE CHINA YOUTH TRAVEL SERVICE LI CHANGJIANG SAYING: "In order to take into account the conditions of the North Korean roads, we had strict restrictions on the type of vehicle used-- it had to be either a Jeep or a four-wheel drive. Since China's mobile network does not work in North Korea, we put one or two walkie-talkies in each vehicle." The cars stopped off at various scenic spots, and attended a performance by local children. One tour member who visited North Korea 10 years ago said she was struck by the improvements in the country - the variety of seafood and vegetables, and high quality goods in the hotels. The three-day tour costs the equivalent of about 147 US dollars per person for Chinese citizens. China is North Korea's only major ally, and has shored up its support for Pyongyang in the past two years, despite regional tension over the isolated country's nuclear programme. Nick Rowlands, Reuters.
Chinese motorists tour North Korea (1:26)
June 15 - North Korea allows Chinese tourists to drive themselves around the secretive state for the first time in history. Nick Rowlands reports. ( Transcript )