The relationship between North Korea and the US may not be particularly cordial, but the cash-strapped country is thirsty for American tourist dollars, especially since South Korea’s Hyundai group stopped running cross-border tours in 2008.
According to Reuters, to encourage US tourists to come visit North Korea, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has agreed to let Americans in year-round. Previously, tourists from the US were only allowed in from August to October for the Arirang Mass Games.
However, just because American citizens are being allowed to cross the border, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to move around freely. Americans are restricted to staying in hotels reserved for foreigners , and cannot stay more than 4 nights. Expect to spend your trip being escorted around by official “guides,” and don’t expect any conversations that you have while you are there to be private. Big Brother is watching…you will be spied upon!
US tourists are allowed in North Korea only as part of organized tour groups. Koryo Tours, located in China, is one of the main companies that arranges such tours.
To travel to to North Korea, US citizens must have valid passports and a North Korean visa.
Here’s what you will need to get a North Korean visa:
- 1 passport photo with a white background
- A copy of the 1st page of your passport
- 1 North Korean visa application form. On the form, make sure to give “tourism” as your reason for traveling.
Us citizens may apply for North Korean visas at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing, China. It usually only takes a day to get your visa issued, but you should probably contact the Permanent Representative of the Democratic
People’s Republic of Korea to the United Nations first to see if your visa application is likely to be accepted. Here is his contact information:
The Permanent Representative of the Democratic
People’s Republic of Korea to the United Nations
820 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Tel: (212) 972-3105
Fax: (212) 972-3154
The company that you arrange your tour with may also be able to help you with your visa, and may request that you forward your details several weeks in advance of your trip.
If you are entering North Korea via China, you also need a multiple-entry Chinese tourist visa. See Chinese Tourist Visa Requirements for details.
Due to the fact that the US has no North Korean Embassy, we can’t expedite a North Korean visa application for you. However, we can help expedite your visa to China, as well as helping you apply for other visas you may need for your trip.