A week in North Korea
A week in North Korea

Journey: North Korea 2004

We planned to have a look in North Korea for many years already. We wanted to witness for ourselves what live in a totalitarian communist state is like. In 2004 we decided to book a tour trough he worlds most reclusive country. We drove trough the country, walked through Pyongyang, had to take part in worshipping the Great leader waved to US GI’s at the border and witnessed a mass celebration. The strangest experience however is loosing most of your freedom for a week. We shot a lot of photographs and film that can be seen on many pages about on this website.

"From time immemorial the Korean people are a homogenous nation who have lived harmoniously on one and the same territory. More than 40 years have passed since Korea was liberated. But the resourceful Korean people still remain divided into north and south and are undergoing the suffering of national division owing to the US imperialists' occupation of south Korea and their "two Koreas" plot."
Panmunjong, The Korean People's Army publishing House, Pyongyang - 1994

Many people react very surprised when you tell them how easy it is to get into North Korea, they believe the country is closed. Basically its a matter of money as it is a very expensive trip (and you should not have the American or South Korean nationality). You have to book a pre arranged tour with a local specialized travel agent or with Koreo Tours in Beijing. We decided to book a 7 day tour with Dutch travel agent VNC. Only group travel is aloud so we decided to travel in a 2 man group. We combined the week in North Korea with three weeks in China afterwards, we booked a flight to Beijing and the return flight from Hong Kong. We picked up our Visa and travel documents in the North Korean Embassy in Beijing. The Visa is issued in a separate document nothing is stamped in the passport (some countries don’t like visa from countries belonging to the axes of evil!). A day later (September the 7th) we flew from Beijing to Pyongyang with Air Koreo. From Pyongyang we had trips to Kaesong (Demarcation Zone) and Myohyansan (International Friendship Exhibition). We went back the 14th by night train via Dandong. Go to the North Korea photos for a selection of 100 pictures of our 2004 North Korea journey.

The North Korean womans football team hail the national flag before the football match against the Netherlands

The North Korean flag

The route by car from Pyongyang to Mount Myohyang in North Korea

The route trough North Korea


Mt. Myohyang

National day

Pyongyang street propaganda poster dated 7the of July 1994

Street propaganda in Pyongyang

A Pagoda on the Buddhist Pohyon Temple on Mount Myohyang

Pagoda on the Pohyon temple complex

Kim Il Sung billboard on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang

Kim Il Sung billboard in Pyongyang

On day 1 we arrived at Pyongyang airport flying from Beijing with Air Koreo. We visited the Grand Kim Il Sung Monument at Mansu Hill, saw a circus show from the Korean Peoples Army and checked in at the Yanggakdo hotel.
Story: Arrival in Pyongyang

On day 2 we drove to Mt. Myohyang were we visited the International Friendship exhibition, the Buddhist Pohyon temple and walked the Piro mountaineering route. We stayed in the beautiful pyramid shaped Hyangsan hotel.
Story: International Friendship Exhibition
Photos: Mount Myonyang photos

Day 3 was an important North Korean national holiday in Pyongyang. We saw Kim Il Sung square, the Korean Central History Museum, Kim’s birth house and took the metro. We finished with national day celebrations on Kim Il sung Square.
Story: Pyongyang National Day

Kaesong and the DMZ

Pyongyang monuments

Back to China

North Korean propaganda poster for a unified Korea at the DMZ

Unification Propaganda at the DMZ

Sculpture depicting partisans on the Arc of Triumph in Pyongyang

Communist sculpture in Pyongyang

The Friendship bridge between Chinese Dandong and Sinuiju

Chinese - North Korean border

We spend day 4 in the border region near Kaesong, with as highlight the famous DMZ. In Kaesong we saw a number of tourist attractions, we stayed in the traditional folklore hotel. The next day we visited Mt. Kuwol and the West Sea Barrage at Nampho before we returned to Pyongyang.
Story: The DMZ and Panmunjon
Photos: Kaesong and the DMZ

On day 5 we visited Pyongyang’s major monuments and landmarks. First we went to Kumsusan Memorial Palace the mausoleum of Kim Il Sung. Then we visited the revolutionary martyrs cemetery, the Juche Tower, the Reunification monument, the Arc of triumph, and the sports district.
Story: Day 5: Pyongyang monuments
Photos: Pyongyang

Day 6 and time to go back to China. We would take the train back to Beijing. The train journey took us past Ryongchong were a large explosion took place view months before we past. The train crosses the border over the Yalu River between Sinuiju in North Korea and Dandong in China.
Story: Back to China

FAQ North Korea

Photos North Korea

How do I book a trip to North Korea? Where can I get a Visa? What kind of money do I need in North Korea? What is the food like in North Korea? Is travelling to North Korea expensive? Get the answer on these and more questions on the FAQ North Korea page.
Go to: FAQ travel North Korea

Taking photographs is heavily restricted in North Korea but not forbidden. Guides will allow tourist to make photos of objects that the country is proud of. We shot around 300 images during our 2004 visits. The North Korea photo page shows a selection of the 100 most interesting pictures of our journey.
Photos: North Korea 2004 photo selection

Socialist sculpture at Revolutionary Martyr’s Cemetery Pyongyang

Socialist sculpture at Revolutionary Martyr’s Cemetery