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If you go to North Korea

November 15, 2009

If you go

About 300 U.S. tourists travel to North Korea annually between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31, the period coinciding with the Arirang Festival (commonly called "mass games") in the capital city of Pyongyang. This is the only time American tourists are allowed, according to Walter Keats, president of Asia-Pacific Travel in Kenilworth, Ill. Truly independent travel is not permitted; visitors are required to have government "escorts," who are with you whenever you leave your hotel.

North Korea: In Sunday's Travel section, an article about visiting North Korea, where tourism is highly controlled, contained incorrect contact information for an agency that arranges trips to the country. The correct telephone number for Koryo Tours, based in Beijing, is 011-86-10-6416-7544, and the e-mail address is


The United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with North Korea, so there is no U.S. Embassy in Pyongyang. The State Department suggests Americans register with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, as well as at the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang. (See: cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_988.html)


For individuals traveling with a group of 10 or more, an eight-day visit, including visa, meals, travel within North Korea, all fees and at least one ticket to the Arirang Festival, along with two days in Beijing, starts at about $2,900. This does not include round-trip airfare to Beijing or Shenyang.


Visitors typically use one of several travel agencies to avoid working directly with the North Korean government. These agencies include:

Asia-Pacific Travel, based in Kenilworth, Ill.; (800) 262-6420,

Koryo Tours, based in Beijing; 011-86-10-6416-7544,, or e-mail

Bestway Tours & Safaris, based in Burnaby, British Columbia; (800) 663-0844,


Brandt publishes a 230-page travel guide to North Korea ($24.99).

Lonely Planet's travel guide on Korea has a chapter on North Korea and is available as a 37-page pullout for $5.40.

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