WHY VISIT NORTH KOREA
You will probably start by visiting Kim Il-sung Square, the central square of Pyongyang, which is the place of huge, empty military parades, surrounded by imposing monuments such as the Great House of Study of the People with its library, The largest in the country, and its strange architecture that brings together tradition and socialist rigor.
On the other bank of the Taedong, the Tower of the Idea Juche is 170 meters high and the 25,550 granite blocks that compose it each represent a day in the life of Kim on her 70th birthday, on the occasion of which she Was built. At its summit, you will enjoy a beautiful view over the city, if the weather is clear.
Do not miss Mount Paekdu, which lies on the border of China, in the northeast of the country, whose altitude rises to 2744 meters, making the highlight of North Korea. To see also, the falls of Pakyon, between the mounts Chonma and Songgo; The city of Kaesong, which is the ancient capital of the kingdom of Koryo; The neo-Confucian college Songgyungwan which dates from 992.
Another beautiful area is the area around Mount Chilbo, with its cliffs, beaches and fishing villages: the disadvantage is that you have to be part of a group large enough to rent the plane that will take you there!
WHAT TO SEE IN NORTH KOREA
Top destinations in North Korea are:
- Changbai Mountains
- Paektu Mountain
WHEN TO GO TO NORTH KOREA
The best period to visit North Korea is between April and October, except in July and August when the weather is more humid and covered.
Between November and March, the climate is cold and the country is deserted. It is in April and May that you will enjoy the best in the country because there are still a few tourists and the temperatures are pleasant. In addition, May 1st is the occasion for grandiose shows and impressive military parades.
Following a list of typical festivals and celebrations of North Korea.
- Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebration: The celebration of the life of North Korea’s founding father, Kim il-Sung, is held every year on April 15. The capital, Pyongyang, sees military parades and parties, while smaller events take place across the country.
- May Day: International Workers’ Day is celebrated in North Korea, as it is elsewhere in the world, on May 1, with Pyongyang seeing a huge folk festival in Toesongsan Park along with sporting events and parades.
- Dragon Boat Festival: Dragon boat races are as popular in North Korea as they are in China, with the annual Dragon Boat Festival taking place at the beginning of spring in early June. A visit to the major event in Pyongyang is an approved tour activity.
- Victory Day: This important festival on July 27 marks the day on which the Korean War armistice was signed, and involves mass dancing and military parades.
- Liberation Day: Liberation Day is a national holiday in North Korea, held on August 15 as part of the huge Mass Games festival in Pyongyang’s main stadium.
- Workers’ Party of Korea Foundation Day: This event celebrates the founding of North Korea’s Workers’ Party, a cornerstone of the country’s ruling elite. Held on October 10, it is a chance to see one of the country’s Mass Dances as well as the last days of the famed Arirang Mass Games in Pyongyang.
- Chulseok: celebrated on July 7th. It is a festival based on the folktale of “The Cowherd Prince and the Weaving Maiden” and it signals the end of hot summer weather and the beginning of monsoon season. Traditional foods are wheat-based pancakes and noodles since wheat crops start to struggle as the weather gets colder.
- Dano: is a spring festival that falls on the same day as the Chinese Dragon Boat festival, a Stamp you’ll find in the Chinese Holidays collection. On this day, women used to wash their hair in water boiled with special herbs. While that doesn’t happen anymore, men still play a special wrestling game to celebrate the coming of spring.
- Hansik: is the spring festival. It falls on April 5th, the 105th day of the Korean calendar. An ancient tradition of this day is the practice of only eating cold foods. Hansik occurs around the same time as Arbor Day around the world, so a new tradition is planting trees and shrubs.
- Korean New Year: Koreans have a modern calendar, however, Korean New Year is one of the only holidays they still celebrate according to a lunar calendar, of a calendar regulated by the moon. New Year’s Day is day 1 of month 1 of the lunar calendar. Families bow to elders, leave offerings at ancestral graves, and exchange gifts with friends, family, and neighbors.
- The First Full Moon: The festival of the First Full Moon is timed according to the lunar calendar. There are kite flying ceremonies and moon viewing. This holiday inspires a lot of mountain and roof climbers because it is said that the first person to see the moon will have good luck all year.
HOW TO REACH AND TRAVEL THROUGH NORTH KOREA
To go to North Korea, you are obliged to pass through China: from Beijing, you will reach the capital Pyongyang by train or plane. One can also leave by air from Vladivostok in Russia, or from Shenyang, still in China.
As for the traffic in the country, everything will have been reserved in advance at the same time as accommodation and guides, after the government agency Ryohaengsa: a driver will ensure your circuit and your trips.
by plane, the main airport is in Pyongyang
GENERAL INFORMATION ON NORTH KOREA
country entry requirements: passport + visa (some countries are exempt, check your visa requirements)
health tips & vaccination: drink only bottled water and avoid ice. The vaccine against typhoid, diphtheria, hepatitis A and B are recommended.
local currency: North Korean Won
local time zone: GMT+9
electricity: type A, type C, and type F (220,100 V, 50-60 Hz)
mobile phone operators: it is prohibited to possess a cell phone
WHAT TO DO IN NORTH KOREA
typical food in North Korea
- Kimchi: Cabbage or radish fermented in a brine of ginger, garlic, scallions, and chili.
- Bibimbap: White rice topped with vegetables, chili, soy sauce, raw egg, and sliced beef.
- Bulgogi: Grilled beef marinated in soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and pepper.
- Japchae: Sweet potato noodles stir-fried in sesame oil with sliced vegetables and beef.
- Gimbap: North Korea’s take on sushi.
- Bindaetteok: A fried pancake of ground mung beans, green onions, and kimchi.
- Miyeokguk: A very nutritious vegetable soup made of seaweed.
- Boshintang: A traditional North Korean soup with the main ingredient of dog meat.
- Tteok: Sticky rice cakes variously filled with honey, sesame, nuts, and dried fruits.
- Soju: A clear spirit, similar to Japanese sake, but made from sweet potato or barley.
- Makgeolli: A cloudy, off-white, and sweet rice wine of around 8% alcohol.
- Taedonggang: A brand of state-owned North Korean beer brewed in Pyongyang.
- Daechucha: A traditional tea made by diluting the juice of jujubes into boiling water.
souvenirs from North Korea
- propaganda posters
- propaganda books
- obsolete currency
- shady embroidery
- panacea tea products
How are you?: Jal jinaess-eoyo?
Thank you: Gomabseubnida
What is your name?: Dangsin-ui ileum-eun mueos-ibnikka?
How much is it?: Eolmayeyo?