A reader posted out that I’d never posted this, and realized this trip happened way before I had a blog. I was sitting at home one night back in 2005, after I’d already decided I wanted to visit every country, and had decided that North Korea was going to be by far the most difficult because they simply didn’t allow American Tourists. Period.
I was reading CNN online that evening, and there was an interview with a British guy in Beijing who said he’d received permission to do the first ever tour of Americans to Pyongyang. Thinking it was a joke, I emailed him. Yes, it was for real, and they were leaving from Beijing. This didn’t seem real. At this point, I didn’t see any other way I’d ever get to North Korea, because for all we knew they’d shut the door again after this one trip.
That hasn’t really happened, however, but it still makes a great story to be part of the first group to go there in decades. I understand a scattered individual here and there had been allowed in prior, but never a group. North Korea would be my 34th country visited (seems so long ago) and it’s funny that even way back then I was worried about how I’d check off the “difficult countries.”
Tickets purchased, and literally 48 hours later we were off to North Korea. I’ll do my best to clear the cobwebs off my dusty memory, and tell as much of the story as I remember 10 years later. I have tons of pictures, however, and about 130 of them are worth posting I think. For that reason, I’ll split this into six parts:
I. Washington DC to Beijing on Continental Airlines, 1 night in Beijing
II. Beijing to Pyongyang on Air Koryo, arrival in Pyongyang
III. Arirang Mass Games
IV. Trip to DMZ and Kaesong, return to Pyongyang
V. War Museum, Movie Studio, Pyongyang Metro, USS Pueblo, Childrens’ Palace
VI. Evening in Pyongyang, and Pyongyang to DC
Even though a trip to North Korea isn’t quite so unusual anymore, I hope you’ll enjoy!