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NORTH KOREA: WINTER EXCHANGE


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NORTH KOREA

This program focuses on meeting with, bonding with and exchanging viewpoints with various people in North Korea during their winter holiday season. Using Inertia’s long standing connections in the country, we will meet with athletes, students, politicians, businesspeople and more while exploring the country. We’ll visit the cities of Pyongyang, Kaesong, Nampo and Pyongsong, as well as the border region around Dandong in China on this winter exchange in North Korea.


HIGHLIGHTS

  • Watch and participate in celebratory events and a Mass Dance during the February 16th Gwongmyongsong Holiday.

  • Meet with North Korea’s winter olympians and athletes at the Pyongyang Ice Rink.

  • Exchange viewpoints with students from Kim Il Sung University.

  • Walk around some of Pyongyang’s most architecturally diverse neighbourhoods and iconic monuments.

  • Play basketball and teach English with middle school students in Pyongsong city.

  • Explore the newly re-opened Joint Security Area on the DMZ between North and South Korea.

  • Wander old neighbourhoods in Kaesong.

  • Learn how to cook Korean food with chefs in Pyongyang.

  • Soak in the hot springs in rural Onchon County.


ITINERARY

DAY 1. FEBRUARY 9, 2019. SATURDAY. ARRIVE IN SHENYANG; TRANSFER TO DANDONG

Participants will fly to Shenyang, China and transfer by bullet train (1 hr) to Dandong, China, a mid-tier city on the border with North Korea. All participants must arrive in Shenyang before 12pm (noon) this day, or should plan to arrive a day early. A mandatory briefing session will be hosted in Dandong along with a welcome dinner in the city.

Overnight at the Dandong Hilton Garden Hotel.

DAY 2. FEBRUARY 10, 2019. SUNDAY. DANDONG - PYONGYANG

We’ll gather in the hotel lobby in the morning and walk across the street to Dandong Railway Station to clear Chinese immigration and customs procedures before boarding our train to Pyongyang. We’ll then travel fifteen minutes across the Yalu (Anmok) River to the North Korean border city of Sinuiju, where we’ll clear DPRK entry procedures. The train makes its way through the North Korean countryside, passing by farms and villages en route to the capital. After about five hours the train will reach Pyongyang station, where we’ll be met by our local team and drive a short distance to our hotel in downtown Pyongyang. We’ll have a group welcome dinner at the Rakbaek Restaurant in Pyongyang followed by evening festivities.

Overnight at the Pyongyang Changgwangsan Hotel.

DAY 3. FEBRUARY 11, 2019. MONDAY. PYONGYANG

This morning we’ll begin our day with a walk around the city, starting from our hotel and walking downtown to Kim Il Sung Square. During our walk we’ll get an overview of Pyongyang and explore some of it’s neighbourhoods during the morning rush hour, as citizens walk and take buses and trolleys to work. From Kim Il Sung Square, we’ll head to the Pyongyang Ice Rink for an exchange with the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams as well as watch a practice from North Korea’s winter figure skating olympians. We’ll then walk to lunch at the nearby Chongryugwan Restaurant. In the afternoon, we’ll return to the ice rink for a friendly skate with some of the country’s athletes before continuing to explore Pyongyang city, including hopefully a visit to a local market to buy ingredients for this evening. We’ll take a ride on the Pyongyang Metro during the evening rush hour to watch the commuters navigate this ornately decorated underground and climb the Juche Tower for a magical sunset above Pyongyang city. In the evening, we’ll work with Korean chefs on a cooking lesson and prepare our own dinner at a local restaurant.

Overnight at the Pyongyang Changgwangsan Hotel.

DAY 4. FEBRUARY 12, 2019. TUESDAY. PYONGYANG - PYONGSONG - KAESONG

After breakfast, we’ll drive to the Mansudae Art Studio in downtown Pyongyang to watch how local artists create their paintings and statues. Then we’ll drive about one hour north to Pyongsong city, where we will visit the Kim Jong Suk Middle School to teach English and play a friendly indoor basketball game with the students there. We’ll be divided into small groups and can spend an hour teaching before having an hour long game at the school. We’ll return to Pyongyang for a late lunch at the Tangogi Restaurant followed by a possible visit to a local market (pending approval). Then, we’ll head to Kwongbok Street to meet with the national taekwondo team and watch a demonstration, followed by a lesson on Korea’s national martial art. In the late afternoon, we’ll drive south to Kaesong City (3 hrs) and spend the evening in traditional Korean houses near the DMZ.

Overnight at the Kaesong Minsok Hotel.

DAY 5. FEBRUARY 13, 2019. WEDNESDAY. KAESONG - PYONGYANG

After a simple breakfast at our hotel, we’ll go on a walk around Kaesong’s historic old town— one of the only places in the northern half of Korea not entirely destroyed during the Korean War. We’ll then climb up Janam Hill for a panoramic view over old Kaesong, where our bus will meet us to drive into the DMZ. We’ll be met by two soldiers and an officer from the Korean People’s Army who will gave us a tour around the Joint Security Area of the DMZ. Due to a recent agreement between the North and South Koreans, this area should be open for exploration on both sides, so we will see the situation when we arrive. The tour normally lasts for about one hour. We’ll then return to Pyongyang by road and have a late lunch upon our arrival back in the city. In the late afternoon we’ll go on another walk around then city as well as visit May Day Stadium and the Pyongyang Football Academy for a friendly with some of the students there.

Overnight: Pyongyang Changgwangsan Hotel.

DAY 6. FEBRUARY 14, 2019. THURSDAY. PYONGYANG - NAMPO

After breakfast, we’ll visit the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun. This is one of the holiest pilgrimage spots in all of North Korea, as late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il lie in state in the buildings that were once Kim Il Sung’s offices. We’ll participate in a strictly guided tour of the Palace and visit the bodies during the visit (business casual attire required). Many North Koreans from around the country will also be visiting the Palace, as organized by their local government offices. Following our visit to Kumsusan, we’ll then drive to Kim Il Sung University for a peer exchange with students and faculty from their English language department. We’ll host an event with the students and hopefully join them for lunch on campus (depending on approvals and availability of resources). Next, we’ll visit Pyongyang’s new Scientists Street before driving to Nampo city on the west coast of Korea. Time allowing, we’ll visit a heavy industry factory and the Chongsanri model cooperative farm. We’ll spend the evening at the Onchon hot springs soaking.

Overnight at the Ryonggang Hot Springs Villas.

DAY 7. FEBRUARY 15, 2019. FRIDAY. NAMPO - PYONGYANG

We’ll visit the Nampo Kindergarten in the morning (pending approval) before returning to Pyongyang (1 hr). Back in the city, we’ll have lunch and go for a walk around the city, and for those interested we’ll arrange an optional visit to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum (Korean War Museum). For those not interested in touring the museum (2 hrs), we’ll arrange for alternative plans to chill at a local coffee shop downtown. In the evening, we’ll invite our friends from the hockey team to join us at the Pyongyang Golden Lanes Bowling Centre for a some fun, followed by a joint dinner and party.

Overnight: Pyongyang Koryo Hotel.

DAY 8. FEBRUARY 16, 2019. SATURDAY. PYONGYANG

Today is a major national holiday in the DPRK called Gwangmyongsong Day— i.e. the Day of the Shining Star. It commemorates the birthday of Kim Jong Il and many events and activities are held across the country. In the morning we’ll visit some of the places we think will be particularly festive with local people, including the Mansudae Grand Monuments, Kimjongilia Flower Hall, and Mansu Hill, where many local children will be tobogganing on their day off from school. In the late afternoon we anticipate there being a major musical concert performance, winter sports show, and a Mass Dance of Pyongyang citizens across the city. As they happen, we’ll join in to participate. Today will be kept flexible to allow us to participate in these events throughout the day. In the evening we will host a farewell dinner with duck BBQ downtown.

Overnight at the Pyongyang Koryo Hotel.

DAY 9. FEBRUARY 17, 2019. SUNDAY. PYONGYANG - DANDONG - SHENYANG

After breakfast we will check out and drive a short distance to Pyongyang Railway Station to board our train back to China. We’ll say our goodbyes to our local team on the platform before travelling five hours through the countryside to the border at Sinuiju, where we’ll go through exit procedures. Then we’ll travel a short distance back over the Yalu River to China, clear entry procedures at Dandong Railway Station and travel directly to Shenyang (1 hr) where we’ll spend the night and host a debriefing activity.

Overnight at the Hotel Jen Shenyang.

DAY 10. FEBRUARY 18, 2019. MONDAY. DEPART SHENYANG

Departures throughout the day from Shenyang Taoxian International Airport. No scheduled activities.


COST

$2,500 USD (for single supplement add $50 per night)

Included

  • All accommodations.

  • Three meals daily.

  • DPRK guides, entrance tickets and activities.

  • Canadian North Korea-expert trip leader.

  • Private transportation.

  • Round train tickets between Dandong and Pyongyang.

  • DPRK visa fees.

  • Chinese visa support (if required).

Excluded

  • Personal spending.

  • Travel and medical insurance.

  • Tips for local staff (suggested $60).

  • Drinks.

  • Optional activities (announced in advance).

  • Chinese double entry visa fee.


TRIP LEADERS


APPLY TO JOIN THE TRIP

This is a unique trip that uses Inertia’s decade-long connections and network in North Korea to open up dialogue and exchange opportunities with North Koreans of all different walks of life. Due to government regulation, this trip is not open to anyone travelling on an American, South Korean, Japanese or Israeli passport. Thank you for understanding.

To join this trip, please fill out the application form by clicking on the button below. A deposit is due immediately following a successful application, so we ask that you only apply when ready to commit.

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PHOTOS


 
Earlier Event: January 17
NORWAY: HERRING RUN LIVEABOARD
Later Event: March 4
SOCOTRA: ISOLATED DIVERSITY