Most journeys to North Korea begin in Beijing. Stock up there with everything you will need for the trip, it won't be available once inside North Korea.
The Chinese border city of Dandong, just across the Yalu River from North Korea, shows the stark contrast between the two countries. China has everything North Korea doesn't have, like e.g. a growing economy.
Korean cuisine is a result of the Korean peninsula's mountainous geography. The main staple is kimchi, i.e. cabbage fermented in chili, pepper and garlic.
| Korea Friendship Association
Promotes the North Korean regime
North Korean Business & Sightseeing Information
From the National Tourism Administration
Travel in North Korea
Great collection of North Korea links
||North Korea: Introduction
North Korea is by far the most closed nation in the world, and not much is known about life inside the Hermit Kingdom. It is surrounded by myths and rumors, many having been created by its government. Even inside the country it is impossible to know where reality ends and fantasy (and lies) begins, a distinction even more difficult to make for the local population who have been isolated from the outside world for over 60 years. A visit to North Korea is a journey like no other. You can't interact with the local population, and you'll have two guides watching you every step of the way. But you can still be assured that you will experience plenty that will let you marvel long after you've left the country.
|North Korea: You can go there?
"I'm not a diplomat, and I don't work for an aid organization or a secret Iranian nuclear facility. Is it still possible for me to visit North Korea?" The answer to this frequently asked question is probably Yes!!! The exception is (officially) US citizens and South Koreans - though the restriction on US citizens is sometimes lifted for brief periods. Journalists have to apply for a special type of visa. For all you other people the recipe for realizing your dream Stalinistic-theme-park vacation is simple.
Independent travel to North Korea is not permitted, so you have to travel as part of a guided tour. This can be arranged by the following agencies:
-Asia Pacific Travel (US agency)
-CGTT Travel (French agency)
-Geographic Expeditions (US agency)
-Koreakonsult (Swedish agency, probably with the lowest tour prices)
-Koryo Tours (English agency, dedicated to North Korea)
-New Korea Tours (US agency)
-VNC (Dutch agency, been the longest in the North Korea tourism game)
After you pay for the trip the agency will arrange the visa, transportation, accomodation, food, guides, sightseeing, and anything else you will need for the trip.
If you for some strange reason have taken the North Korean leadership to your heart and want to join other revolutionaries on a pilgrimage to North Korea, the Korea Friendship Association would love for you to join them on one of their trips.
When going to North Korea remember that there are some things you'll have to leave behind. Your cell-phone will not be very popular with North Korean customs. The same goes for newspapers and magazines, characterized as imperialist propaganda. Laptops, DVDs, CDs and other electronic equipment will also be found suspicious by the customs officials. If you're an avid photographer bringing too much equipment might raise the suspicion that you're a journalist. Though, on the bright side, most tourists are not very thorougly searched on arrival.
Once inside North Korea there is one rule you should never forget. The North Koreans take their leaders very seriously, so never ever insult neither Kim Il-Sung or Kim Jong-il. You will at least be deported, and might even get the chance to see the inside of a North Korean prison. On the positive side, your guides won't expect you to show quite the same amount of devotion for the leaders as the poor North Koreans have to show.
|North Korea: World Connections
For a country with a population of 23 million North Korea doesn't have many connections to the outside world. Train K27 (shown in the picture) departs Beijing four times a week for its 28 hour journey to Pyongyang. There's also a weekly departure to Moscow, along the Trans-Siberian. The only alternative to trains is flying, using the national carrier Air Koryo. They operate a few weekly flights to Beijing and Shenyang in China and Vladivostok in Russia.
||North Korea: Kim Here, There, Everywhere
No matter how you enter North Korea you will be greeted by the smiling "Great Sun" Kim Il-Sung within a short time of your arrival. Even though he's been dead for more than 10 years his picture still watches over "his" people in almost every place; in stations, in offices, on street corners, and even in their homes. Make sure you don't disrespect the guy or his son while in North Korea. The poor North Koreans can be imprisoned and even executed for doing this. Even as a foreigner you could face imprisonment for just one snide comment.
After months of dealing with the North Korean bureaucracy to get the visa, the first glimpse of the world's most closed country is riveting.
|Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk
Communist single-party state dictatorship
•676: Silla Kingdom first unified state to cover most of Korean peninsula.
•935: Silla Kingdom gives way to Goryeo Dynasty.
•1392-1910: Korean peninsula ruled by Joseon Dynasty.
•1910-45: Annexed by Japan.
•1945: Korean peninsula divided, with establishment of seperate governments in communist North and democratic South.
•1948-94: Led by dictator Kim Il-Sung.
•1950-53: Korean War, initiated by an attack from the North.
•1997: Kim Jong-il confirmed as head of state.