The Pyongyang Summer Language Program 2019 + Mass Games


Would you like to study the Korean language at a North Korean university? You can, with Tongil Tours. Tongil Tours was the first tour operator to offer concentrated language study at a North Korean university in 2016, and we continue this important tradition with the 2019 Pyongyang Summer Language Program– the longest running open language program in North Korea. As a company with a focus on educational tourism, we are committed to making sure that our language program meets the highest standards.

The tour will be led by a Korean-speaking Tongil Tours staff member who understands the needs of those studying Korean as a foreign language.

Applications are now open for international students, including ethnic Koreans (although South Korean and US passports cannot be used to travel to North Korea).


The 2019 Pyongyang Summer Language Program is a rigorous, intensive three week immersion experience that will help Korean language learners move to the next level in their language skills. The focus is on conversation with native language speakers. The program caters to all levels from beginner and intermediate to advanced. Beginning Korean language learners are welcome. The course is intended for serious language learners who are committed to focusing on their studies every day. Upon acceptance, you will be part of an elite group: among some of the first westerners to ever study at a DPRK university. Upon finishing, you will be issued with an official certificate of completion from the university.

By Application Only

Optimal candidates will:

  • Have an academic interest in focused Korean language study;
  • Be committed to devoting their full attention to making the most of the course;
  • Share with us the motivation to help foster friendship and understanding through academic exchange;
  • Be ready to have an amazing experience studying in North Korea

Key Program Dynamics

Highly practical, conversation focus
Get daily conversational practice with North Korean teachers, guides, hotel and restaurant staff etc.

Built-in comprehensive tourist agenda
Visit key sites in Pyongyang, while every weekend travel to places outside Pyongyang on Saturday and Sunday, staying overnight. By the end of your three week course you will have visited many fascinating sites of interest both in Pyongyang and other DPRK locations, all the while practicing and strengthening your Korean language skills.

This tour will also include an opportunity to view the 2019 Mass Games, “The People’s Country” (인민의 나라), a epic feat of choreography lasting over 90 minutes. The performance is held in the May the 1st Stadium, which has one of the largest seating capacities in the world. Incorporating drones, fireworks, and a “card trick” background orchestrated by thousands of people in addition to the mass gymnastics performance on the foreground, you will never see anything else like it. (May be attended on another day in the itinerary.)

Learn from North Koreans
Your teachers will be North Korean. Outside of sensitive political topics, you can chat about anything and really build friendships.

World-class instruction
The program will be held at Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies (평양외국어대학), among the best universities in the country. Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies is the top foreign language and international studies university in the DPRK and the place where its future diplomats and international businesspeople are trained. Tongil Tours is the only tour operator able to organise study programs at Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies. We will also visit other universities in Pyongyang such as Kim Il Sung University (김일성종합대학) for special lectures on Korean politics, culture and history.

Overview of Daily Study in North Korea (Monday-Friday)

Please note that minor changes in daily schedule and overall itinerary are possible due to circumstances beyond the control of Tongil Tours. Trips to areas outside of Pyongyang will be held on the weekends.

9:00 – 12:00 CLASSES– 3 classes of 1 hr each. 3rd class is focused on conversation practice.

12:30 – 14:00 Lunch
14:00 – Pyongyang Sightseeing and study time

18:30 – 19:30 Dinner
19:30 – rest, homework, free time to enjoy hotel facilities such as billiards, table-tennis, bar etc.
*Please note that afternoon times will change some days depending on the sightseeing schedule.

Photos From 2016 Program

Former Student Testimonial

Thanks to Tongil Tours for making this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity happen; based on my experiences there, it seems that they will be able to open even more doors in the near future. Studying in the DPRK enables you to learn more than just the language – it opens your eyes to the realities of daily life in a country that very few understand. For me, it even shed new light on the world I come from. Your perceptions and experience will certainly be revised, if not altered.”
—Travis Jeppesen
lecturer in Critical Writing in Art and Design at the Royal College of Art, London, UK


Included in Tuition:

  • Train transportation to and from Beijing (plane options available)
  • Lodging, board, and transportation while in DPRK
  • 3 hours of class per day (3x 1 hr classes), for 5 days a week for 3 weeks
  • Afternoon and weekend sightseeing
  • Korean language learning materials
  • Three meals a day (excluding certain optional out-of-pocket restaurants)

Not Included in Tuition:

  • Chinese double-entry visa
  • Lodging in Beijing prior to commencement of program
  • Incidental expenses throughout, such as souvenirs, personal items, extra food/drink etc.
  • DPRK visa (EUR 65)
  • Some optional entrance fees (2-10 euros), Pizza night (~5-10 Euros). Further details with pre-departure email, Mass Games ticket (100 EUR min.)
  • Tips for the Korean guides and drivers (total of 75-150 Euro from each person)


  • One-way plane ticket– €335 extra — those who’d rather not spend a night on the train can take the plane one or both ways
  • Optional final weekend trip– €500 extra– go on an extra weekend trip to the beautiful Kumgang Mountains before wrapping up the program! Stay three extra nights (two in Mount Kumgang Resort) and depart on Tuesday the 24th of July 2018

Departure information

FRIDAY June 28, 2019

Beijing > Dandong > Pyongyang train travellers
4 PM – Meet Tongil Tours staff at Beijing Railway Station and get ready for the interesting and leisurely Beijing-Dandong overnighter. Be sure to stock up on snacks, water, and food for Friday night meal. Cafe and snacks available on board, though more expensive.

5:30 PM – Train departs. Dinner and drinks on train. Overnight aboard the train (sleeper bunks). Orientation will be held on train for train travellers.

7 AM Saturday – Arrival in Dandong, transfer to Dandong-Pyongyang international train. Arrive in Pyongyang in the afternoon and begin Saturday itinerary…

Saturday June 29, 2019

Beijing-Pyongyang plane option travellers
10 AM (Beijing time) – Assemble at Koryo Air flight counter in Beijing International Airport Terminal 2 before taking Air Koryo flight JS 152 to Pyongyang at 12:55 PM. A Tongil Tours staff member will be ready to meet participants and deliver tickets and visas, and give a briefing session.

12:55 PM – (Beijing time) – Estimated flight take off time. Flight time – approx. two hours.

3:30 PM – Estimated time of arrival in Pyongyang. Upon arrival, meet our Korean guides at Sunan International Airport. Head into Pyongyang and beging Saturday itinerary…

Saturday June 29, 2019

Dandong departure travellers
8 AM – Meet Tongil Tours staff and fellow travellers joining group from Beijing train at Dandong Railway Station. Pre-briefing and orientation for Dandong departure travellers. DPRK visas and train tickets distributed at this time.

10 AM – China exit procedures in Dandong, followed by DPRK entry procedures in Sinuiju. Upon arrival in Pyongyang, we will meet our Korean guides and begin Saturday itinerary…

Return information

Saturday July 20, 2019

AM – Breakfast at hotel

For Pyongyang-Dandong train departures
10AM – Departure from Pyongyang Train Station.
5PM – Arrival in Dandong Station
(school officially closes for Dandong only travellers)

For Pyongyang-Beijing plane departures
AM – After breakfast, we drive to Sunan airport for Air Koryo JS 251 Y back to Beijing.
10:30AM (Pyongyang time) – Estimated departure time. Flight time – approximately two hours.
12 noon- (Beijing time, half an hour earlier than Pyongyang time) – Estimated arrival time.
(school officially closes for air travellers at this time in Beijing Capital Airport, terminal 2.)

Upon arrival in Dandong at 5pm, you will transfer to your Dandong-Bejing overnight train, on which you will have dinner, as well as breakfast the following morning before arrival in Beijing. Cafe car, snacks and water available on train but be sure to stock up with needed food items before boarding.

7AM – Arrive in Beijing Station, Sunday July 21
(school officially closes for Beijing extension travellers)

Media Links

Huffington Post blog post by Tongil Tours founding partner and program participant Alek Sigley on being the first Australian to study in a North Korean university:

NKnews interview with Tongil Tours about the program:

Tongil Tours blog: the inaugural 2016 program:

Tongil Tours blog: the 2017 program:

Pyongyang Summer Language Program 2017 video:

Tongil Tours blog post series, How to Speak the North Korean Language:

Sample Itineraries

Afternoon Pyongyang city tour itinerary will be decided with input from group members. See below for weekend trip sample itineraries.


AM – Breakfast at hotel

Mount Myohyang – one of the most famous mountains in the Korean peninsula. It is known for its scenic beauty and as a sacred place with various myths and legends associated with it. Mount Myohyang Manpok Hiking Trail – A mildly strenuous hiking trail that follows graceful mountain streams and waterfalls up through lush pine forests to several successive viewing platforms. Popular among local hikers. Sangwon Hermitage – First founded as early as the 10th century, the present structures that make up this picturesque Buddhist hermitage date from the 16th century. International Friendship Exhibition – This complex is where gifts from foreigners to North Korea’s leaders are stored and exhibited, including gifts from Dennis Rodman.

Dinner and overnight at Chongchon Hotel in the mountains.


AM – Breakfast at hotel

Ryongmun Caves – An expansive cave network located near Mount Myohyang in North Pyongan Province.

Drive back to Pyongyang (approx. two hours).


AM – Breakfast at hotel

The Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) at Panmunjom and the Joint Security Area (JSA).

Here tourists can visit the Armistice Talks Hall, the Armistice Signing Hall and Panmunjom Peace Village from the northern side.

LUNCH – For lunch, we head to Kaesong to enjoy a meal of local specialties said to have been the cuisine of royalty. Optional meal upgrade: traditional stuffed chicken hot pot with ginseng and pomegranate. (EUR 30) Koryo History Museum – This museum is dedicated to Kaesong’s past as capital of Koryo Dynasty Korea (which lasted from 919 to 1394 AD). Sonjuk Bridge – Constructed in 1290, Sonjuk Bridge is a Koryo dynasty stone bridge located in central Kaesong City. Tomb of King Kongmin – Completed in 1372, this is the tomb of King Kongmin, 31st king of the Koryo Dynasty and his wife, Mongolian princess and later Korean queen, Queen Noguk. Drive to Sariwon, halfway between Kaesong and Pyongyang.Sariwon Folk Village – A folk culture-themed thoroughfare in downtown Sariwon adorned with traditional style gates, ponds and pavilions.

Return to Pyongyang (1.5 hrs)