W3 – Gangwon/Kangwon International Airports

I am studying the international airports in Gangwon/Kangwon region for international tourists such that we understand the cause of their failure to bring in crowd and the role they can play in future tourism.

Area of Coverage by Driving 45, 60 and 90 minutes for 4 Major Airports near the DMZ

Wonsan Kalma International Airport
The Wonsan Kalma Airport is located in Wonsan City, North Korea. Until early 2013, it served as a military base. In July 2013, Kim Jong Un approved plans for a complete redesign of the airport, with plans to turn the airport into a dual-use airport for both civilian and military purposes. This move was done to support the plan of creating the Wonsan Special Tourist Zone. In July 2014, Construction of the airport by KPA Military Construction Unit began. The construction was completed in July 2015 and the airport received its first commercial flight on September 2015. Following its renovation in 2015, the airport has the capacity of catering to up to 2000 passengers daily and 12 commercial aircraft at any one time. It features two jetbridges and two runways.

However, beyond this inaugural commercial flight, the airport hardly receive any other commercial flights. Despite calling itself an international airport, no international flights has ever landed there. Meanwhile, there is also hardly any domestic flights other than the occasional charter flights from Pyongyang which carries mostly international tourists

Instead, there has been more military activities recorded in the airport than commercial ones. The airport even has an integrated missile testing site which consists of a concrete-paved launch pad and is supported by hangars and observation platform. In September 2016, the airport hosted the Wonsan Air Festival by Air Koryo. In November 2019, satellite images showed North Korean military aircrafts lined up at the airport for the Combat Flight Contest. Meanwhile, in January 2020, military aircrafts were once again seen for reasons not known.

Yangyang International Airport
Yangyang International Airport is located in the Yangyang county, Gangwon Province, South Korea. It serves the Sokcho, Gangneung and Pyeongchang region. In 1995, the site for the airport was chosen and by 2001, construction was completed. It finally opened in 2002, however airlines rarely come. In 2008, the airport was temporarily closed due to a lack of demand. It finally reopened in 2010 with the East Asia Airline being the first carrier to fly to Yangyang in over 20 months through their Busan-Yangyang Route (now terminated). Yangyang continued to face sporadic demand level and has trouble getting hold of airlines willing to fly into the city. The 2018 Winter Olympics in nearby Pyeongchang saw the airport having its busiest period to date.
The airport features a single runway without taxiway and with single entry and exit point. It has a capacity of 3.5 million passengers per year but annual demand has never exceeded 250 000 passengers.

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