I will be heading into DPRK to guide the first ever New Year’s party tour. This is the first ever year that tourists have been allowed into the country at this time.
Bundle up, join the fun, and be with us for history in the making!
Group A Dates: December 31 – January 2 2013
Group A Price: 395 Euros
December 30 – January 5 2013
Price: 895 Euros
Latest round of Pyongyang traffic girl pics from my October trip:
Boy on a Pyongyang tram – photo by Joseph A Ferris III
I just finished three strait weeks of leading tours: Rason SEZ, Pyongyang and the DMZ, and a Palawan island hopping trip – my excuse for the lack of attention to the blog. I have a relatively quiet two weeks off: hanging out at our North Korea theme bar in Yangshuo, China (more on that to come), securing a Russian visa in Beijing for the Eurasian Adventure Tour, and doing a research trip to the Chinese/DPRK border region.
I visited some great new locations on my last Pyongyang trip and I promise to get cracking on getting some new content posted ASAP!
Minnie Mouse at the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace.
I’m back from leading 25 Young Pioneers on a classic 7 day North Korea trip – my second trip to North Korea in a busy two week period. Several YPT guides and I plan to be back in the DPRK for a New Year’s Eve party; we are accepting guests brave enough to face a Pyongyang winter!
I have a bunch of trips scheduled for Spring/Summer 2014, most excitingly the Koreans have asked me to develop a special 10 day hiking trip to Mt. Kumgang.
YPT’s Chinese National Day group tour at the Pyongyang Grand Monument.
Most warmer month DPRK tour itineraries include a visit Pyongyang’s Kaeson Fun Fair – it has the biggest roller coasters and is centrally located next to the Arch of Triumph. But other options for those looking for their adrenalin fix exist; next to May Day Stadium on Rungra Island is the newly constructed Rungra Island Funfair and Pleasure Park. The sprawling 100 hector complex actually comprises two separate amusement parks and a dolphinarium – unfortunately we missed the dolphin show on my visit. The Kaeson Fun Fair may have the blockbuster rides, but the amusements at the Rungra Island Funfair are more surreal; check out the crazy mouse roller coaster and the Mexican sombrero ride in the pictures below:
Chinese National Day Tour – September 30th – October 8th
My plans have changed; instead of a Rason trip I’m now being sent in to guide the finale of the Arirang Mass Games for Young Pioneer Tour’s Chinese National Day Tour.
Still time to arrange a visa to see the final Arirang Mass Games: €1195 – 7 days in DPRK, Train/Flight In, Train Out (Flight out +€120) Dandong option €795
Woman in revolutionary outfit on a cell phone at Mansu Hill, Pyongyang – Photo by Joseph A Ferris III
Last spring I had a chance to visit the 16th Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair held at the Three Revolutionary Ideas Exhibition. Entrance was 5 Euros and not everybody in my tour group wanted to visit. Those who didn’t enter got to mingle with locals and eat barbeque pork at an outside food court, but those of us who did visit were treated to an amazing look at North Korean technology and the country’s emerging marketplace.
Luxury Tissot watch booth. Other luxury Swiss items can be found at a shop at the Yanggakdo Hotel.
North Korean Samjiyon Tablet – are their tablets and new smart phones really made in North Korea?
This photo is credited as being the first to confirm the existence of the larger size Samjiyon Tablet.
Flat screen TVs showing the Moranbong Band.
Panasonic in Pyongyang.
Washers, dryers, and refrigerators.
Young woman in revolutionary outfit using North Korean currency at the trade fair.
Want to learn more about business opportunities in the DPRK ? Gareth Johnson, Young Pioneer Tours founder, and I will be heading up to the Rason Special Economic Zone for 3 days of business meetings on Sept 24th. This is not a tourist trip, but for those with serious business interests there is still time to join up. Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org – full itinerary and price to be published shortly.
Friend and fellow Young Pioneer Tours guide, Chris White, had an epic encounter with a Pyongyang Traffic Girl last week in the DPRK:
Pics from Young Pioneer Tour’s Facebook page – give the page a like and suggest to your friends for your chance to win our yearly free DPRK trip giveaway contest!
Getting your caffeine fix in North Korea can be quite a challenge. A tasteless cup of instant coffee is usually provided with hotel breakfasts, and a cup of instant can be mixed up for a Euro at the various rest stops and lunch/dinner restaurants. But coffee lovers don’t despair; a proper latte or cappuccino can be had at the Viennese Coffee Shop located off Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung square. The coffee shop is open for tourists and doesn’t require a prearranged permit, just ask your guides if there is time to stop by.
While located in Pyongyang, a latte at the Viennese Coffee Shop will cost as much as one goes for in the Austrian capital!
Not only does this lovely North Korea barista whip up a great cappuccino, she is also a champion foosball (table football) player. Ask her to play a couple games; an hour of foosball at the table in the back room goes for a Euro.
The Kim Jong-il statue on Pyongyang’s Mansudae Hill got a new jacket this year: a massive bronze winter parka.
The Mansudae Hill Kim Jong-il statue was originally unveiled to the North Korean people on the April 15th, 2012, the 100th birthday anniversary of eternal President Kim Il-sung. I was among the first group of tourists to visit the statue when the monument was officially reopened to foreigners the following day. The original 2012 Kim Jong-il statue attire included a bronze medium length formal style jacket. Apparently authorities didn’t find the formal jacket representative to late leader’s career, so master artists of the Mansudae Art Studio were tasked to cast a giant copy of the late leader’s iconic winter parka – see Kim Jong-il looking at things.
Time examined Kim Jong-il’s parka and reported the following comments from the North Korean Rodong Sinmun:
“People around the world are attracted to and following not only the jacket our Great Leader is wearing,” Rodong Sinmun wrote in 2010, “but also his attitude, facial expressions, hand gestures, and even his handwriting.” All over the world, the parka was “the most valuable and noble item to have.”
Original Kim Jong-il statue with the 2012 formal bronze jacket.
North Koreans love to dress their children in mock military uniforms – below are pictures of boys in uniform proudly posing for my camera at the Pyongyang Rungna Dolphinarium fun fair.
The Korean War era American G.I. clown is alive and well at the Pyongyang Military Circus. Performed while the nets for the trapeze grand finale are being rigged, the skit always portrays the G.I. as the butt of jokes and as a helpless buffoon. The skit changes with time, one past visitor reported seeing a performance where the G.I. repeatedly had his plate of dinner hidden on him by a cunning South Korean military cook. The skit I watched had the G.I. beat up by a South Korean street bum with 4 legs. Why 4 legs? I assume the audience is meant to see the action via the perspective of the drunken American soldier, which of course is blurred, confused, and absolutely absurd.
And no, this is not a real American G.I., but a North Korean soldier with a fake nose and a heavy makeup job.