Metrics. We get asked about metrics all the time. What metrics can you use when guessing about DPRK Econ stuff? Is traffic really down in Dandong? Have oil imports from China really decreased? How much has the mining sector grown?
Well here's two things we can see: the first Air China flights to Pyongyang in 2015 won't be until April 13th; also, Air Koryo is operating at basically 3/5ths of what they were in 2014.
This was one thing you could really point to in 2013/2014. In 2013, Air Koryo added two flights a week to Beijing, keeping them throughout 2014. This had been great for us, offering greater flexibility for our workshop leaders and letting us take full advantage of our volunteers' schedules. More importantly, it was a sign that more people were going in and out of China, mostly to do business.
Air Koryo expects to re-add the flights in April and we'll see if passenger numbers bounce back right away after the quiet winter. Meanwhile, return tickets this March are 12 RMB cheaper than last March.
It will be too late for Masikryong's to "bounce back" and show off its first full season as an international tourist resort, though we hear domestic business has been brisk.