North Korea travel ban until September
North Korea has recently prohibited all tourists from visiting the country until early September, but the reason behind the move remains unclear.
North Korean, ruled by Kim Jong-un, has paused any and all tourist visa applications that are currently underway and aren’t accepting any new ones until after the travel ban ends on 9th September 2018.
The ban was put into place almost immediately after Chinese tourists were prohibited from specifically traveling into North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang. Following that action, it seems that it has been decided to stop receiving all tourist visits for the time being. There may be no concrete reason why, but there has been some speculation from various sources.
One popular explanation is that North Korean is preparing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the date they officially became the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – as the country is officially known. Kyoryo Tours suggested that the pause in travel could be down to capacity issues. A large number of high-level visitors, such as state delegates, are expected to be in North Korean in September for the celebrations. It could be that North Korea is simply pressing pause until they know the situation and how many travellers they can safely receive alongside their visitors.
It is expected that, come September, the situation will be made clear. Visa applications are also expected to be issued very quickly following this, provided that your application is one of the ones that has been paused during this time.
In previous years, the capital of North Korean, Pyongyang, has celebrated the anniversary of their country’s founding with military parades, games, and acrobatic choreography. It has been speculated that this year may have some additions – such as showcasing the nuclear weapons they have.
The sudden freeze on visas has been said to be a tad unusual, but not uncharacteristic of North Korean.
If you are planning on attempting to travel to North Korea before September, the only way to do so is through a tour operator. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise travellers to remain alert if visiting, reminding travellers that even if the daily life in Pyongyang appears calm, the security situation in North Korean can change with very little, if any, advanced notice by the North Korean authorities.
This can pose significant risk to visitors from the UK, you should remember to follow the political and security situation very closely and stay in touch with your host or tour operator while you’re in the country. Limited help is also available to UK tourists should something go wrong – The British Embassy Pyongyang is available to provide some consular assistance to British visitors to Pyongyang, but only limited assistance if they are outside of the capital. However, due to the restricted access, in the event of a worsening security situation, the help available may be reduced.
On a lighter note, it seems that all tours scheduled after 9th September remain unaffected, and tourists should still be able to visit Sinuiju, which is near the border of China.
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