Pyongyang Tours to Begin Soon
Keumgangsan and Kaesong are currently only two North Korean destinations accessible to tourists coming from south of the DMZ. That will soon change. In addition to Mt. Paektu tours slated to begin this spring, the Seoul-based Pyeonghwa (lit: ‘peace’) group is in talks with the Pyongyang regime to begin offering golf-themed package tours to North Korea and tours to see the Arirang performance. Both tours would include a city tour. Unlike past tours, visitors would be able to fly directly from Seoul to Pyongyang. Also, unlike past regular tours to North Korea, this one will not be run by Hyundai-Asan.
South Koreans may soon be able to book a golf tour to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, thanks to the efforts of Seoul-based PyeongHwa Group, a pioneer in organizing travel packages to the isolated country.
Park Se-jin, manager of PyeongHwa Air Travel Agency Corp., the travel business arm of the group, said talks are now underway to allow golf package tours to the North Korean capital. “We are currently in the very early stages of the talks,” Park told The Korea Herald, rebuffing the report by Yonhap News, which declared that the golf tour could begin as soon as June. He also dismissed the report claiming that tours to the Arirang performance could begin this August.
The Arirang performance, named after a mournful Korean folk song about lost love, features an artistic show staged by tens of thousands of young North Korean performers. It is performed from August to October each year.
“We wish the tours could begin as soon as June, but I don’t think it is possible at this stage of the discussions,” Park said in a telephone interview, noting that the talks are now being held with the North’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee. He stressed that the approval process is complex and time-consuming, because it also involves reporting details of the discussions to the Ministry of Unification. South Korean visitors would be able to take a direct flight from Gimpo International Airport to Pyongyang’s airport, rather than having to go via China (see: Korea Herald “Golf in Pyongyang?” 3/14/2007).
Prices, however, are a bit steep:
A four-night five-day golf package tour, which would include two days of golf and a two-day tour of Pyongyang, is estimated to cost between 2.7 million won and 2.9 million won.
The package featuring the Arirang show and a city tour could cost 1.1 million won. (see: Korea Herald “Golf in Pyongyang?” 3/14/2007)
Be sure and check out this photo essay about Pyongyang’s 9-hole golf course.