The History of War and Peace in Korea
A North Korean Perspective

TOUR OVERVIEW

Join this academically focused tour to learn more about the Korean War (1950-1953) from the North Korean perspective. Visit war related museums and see weapons and vehicles etc., and see the Demilitarized Zone, including Panmunjom, which still splits the Korean Peninsula, said to be the most heavily guarded military zone in the world. Some of these war related sights are common on tourist itineraries, while others are much rarer. The Korean Army Day falls on our 5th day of the tour, and we will observe and/or participate in any possible activities.

As the North Korean perspective of Korean War history differs on some points from many Western scholars, we are not going there to challenge their perceptions, but to learn about how the DPRK has recorded its war history and add it to our knowledge.There will be many chances to ask questions, and we will meet many local guides who are experts in their fields. The tour is suitable for anyone with a general interest in Korea and its war history, as well as for those with an interest in history.

There are no specific academic requirements for joining this tour, but because of the sensitive topic of the tour, we may ask any applicant for an online interview before confirming their spot as a participant. This way we can optimize the learning experience, comfortability and safety of all participants.

Tour Highlights

  • Saturday, April 21st to Thursday, April 26th
  • Unless you chose to depart from Dandong, the tour starts and concludes in Beijing, China
  • Options for round trip flight from Beijing, and to join the trip from Dandong, China.
  • When leaving by train, a one night extension for stopping in Sinuiju is also possible.

ITINERARY DETAILS

Please note that minor changes in itinerary may apply for reasons beyond the control of Tongil Tours.

SATURDAY

PYONGYANG

DAY 0 – FRIDAY – 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).

7 AM Saturday – Arrival in Dandong, transfer to Dandong-Pyongyang international train.

Arrive in Pyongyang in the afternoon, and begin Saturday itinerary…

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DAY 1 – SATURDAY – Beijing-Pyongyang plane 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…

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DAY 1 – SATURDAY – Dandong departure travellers
8 AM – Meet Tongil Tours staff and fellow travellers joining group from Beijing extension train at Dandong Railway Station. Pre-briefing 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.

Arrive in Pyongyang in the afternoon, and begin Saturday itinerary…

SATURDAY PYONGYANG ITINERARY

Cemetery for Korean War Heroes of The Republic
Inaugurated in 2013, this cemetery was made for the Korean soldiers who died in the Korean War.

Mansu Hill Grand Monument
The biggest statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il in the country.

Dinner

Local micro-brewery for local beer (€2/pint)

Overnight in Sosan Hotel

SUNDAY

PYONGYANG CITY TOUR & MUSEUMS

AM – Breakfast in the hotel

Arch of Triumph
One of Pyongyang’s most iconic monuments, the Arch of Triumph is larger than its Parisian predecessor at 60 m (197 ft) high and 50 m (164 ft) wide. Built to commemorate Kim Il Sung’s role in the Korean resistance to Japanese colonialism from 1925 to 1945, it was opened on his 70th birthday in 1982. If you want to take the elevator to the newly opened roof, there is an extra fee of 2.5 Euro.

Pyongyang Metro
Although not in the official description, it is speculated that this
metro system, said to be the deepest in the world, could double as a network of bunkers and military use tunnels in the case of another war on the peninsula.

LUNCH

Victorious Fatherland Liberation Museum (Korean War)
USS Pueblo, US spy ship – The Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum is a museum dedicated to North Korea’s 1953 “victory” over the United States and its allies in the Fatherland Liberation War, commonly known as the Korean War in the West.Learn the history of the Korean War from the North’s perspective through elaborate museum displays and videos in the main hall, and see a grand panorama of the Battle of Daejon. By the entrance are war-themed monumental statues and displays featuring
captured and downed American vehicles, tanks, artillery and planes. Visitors can also tour the USS Pueblo, which was in 1968 found in Korean waters and accused of being a spy ship, after which it was captured and taken to Pyongyang where it has been kept as a trophy ever since. The museum has numerous exhibition halls on three extensive floors, and tourists on a standard tour rarely have time to see more than a fraction of what the museum offers. On this tour, we will dedicate much more time to see what the museum has to offer.

DINNER

After dinner, we’ll head to a local bar for some drinks, or spend some time at one of the hotel pubs, enjoy some bowling, or try our skills at karaoke. (optional)

Overnight in Sosan Hotel.

North Korean tank at Fatherland Liberation War Museum, Pyongyang DPRK

MONDAY

PYONGYANG, SARIWON, KAESONG

Breakfast in hotel.

Gonjiri Revolutionary Historic Site
Located about 30 minutes’ drive from Pyongyang, next to the village of Gonjiri, is an enormous cave with buildings, bunkers and tunnel systems undetectable from the sky. The local guide will explain how Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il spent much of their time here during the Korean War, as Pyongyang was continuously bombed. The cave itself has been renovated to protect the inside, with a big glass wall at the entrance, and a new roof has been built, complete with sparkling stars.

LUNCH

Central Class Education Museum
This museum, rarely visited by western tourists, shows how the DPRK sees American and Japanese advances into the peninsula. The first floor is dedicated to the US, and the second to Japan. The exhibitions chronologically shows intrusions by Japan and the US, starting from the Ri Dynasty (Choseon Dynasty) until present day.

Sariwon
We will start our drive to Kaesong, and stop by the city of Sariwon on the way. Here we will visit Sariwon Folk Village, a folk culture-themed thoroughfare in downtown Sariwon adorned with traditional style gates, ponds and pavilions

DINNER in Kaesong.

Overnight in Janamsan Hotel.

TUESDAY

KAESONG, The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Shinchon

AM – Breakfast at hotel

Sonjuk Bridge
Constructed in 1290, Sonjuk Bridge is a Koryo dynasty stone bridge located in central Kaesong City. It is located a very short walk from the hotel. The Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) at Panmunjom and the Joint Security Area (JSA). LUNCH – For lunch, we head to Kaesong to enjoy a meal of local specialties said to have been the cuisine of the 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).

Shinchon Museum of American War Atrocities
Located between Kaesong and Pyongyang, Shinchon Museum contains many graphic scenes portrayed through wax statues and paintings, depicting the US army killing Korean civilians in Shinchon during the Korean War. We will also meet and talk to one of the survivors.

DINNER

After dinner, we may head to local café for coffee, soft drinks or beer.

Overnight in Sosan Hotel

Mansu Hill Grand Monument Pyongyang

WEDNESDAY

April 25 ~ Korean Army Day

AM – Breakfast at hotel

Mangyongdae Native House (birthplace of Kim Il-sung)
Hear about Kim Il Sung and his family’s struggles against the Japanese Imperial Army Special Lecture about the Korean War – Given at Kim Il Sung University. (Subject to possible changes in time and venue)

Army Day Celebrations
Army Day commemorates the creation of the Korean People’s Army in 1932. Sometimes, although not every year, extensive Army parades are held on this day. Exact plans for the celebrations are not announced in advance, and some parts of the celebrations may be closed to foreigners.

Military Orchestra Performance
Likely to be held in Moranbong Theatre. Such performances usually requires an extra fee of about 20 Euro.

DINNER

After dinner, weather-permitting, we will take a stroll along the most recently constructedRyomyong street.

Overnight in Sosan Hotel.

Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum Pyongyang

THURSDAY

departure day

AM – Breakfast at hotel

For Pyongyang-Dandong train departures
10AM – Departure from Pyongyang Train Station.
5PM – Arrival in Dandong Station
(tour 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 – Estimated arrival time. (Beijing time, half an hour earlier than Pyongyang time)
(tour officially closes for air travellers at this time in Beijing Capital Airport, terminal 2.)

PYONGYANG-DANDONG-BEIJING TRAIN TRAVELLERS continuing itinerary
Upon arrival in Dandong at 5pm Thursday, 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.

7AM, Friday – Arrive in Beijing Station
(tour officially closes for Beijing train travellers)

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT THE ITINERARY: Upon arrival in Pyongyang, as with all travel to the DPRK, availability of activities on the above itinerary are subject to seasonal availability, last minute changes on the DPRK side, and many other factors. 95% of the time the itinerary above will run, but some activities may not be on some itineraries and will be replaced with comparable substitutes. Changes in itinerary are sometimes last minute, and determined in the moment, solely by our DPRK guides. Although we do our best to make sure that the itinerary is kept, Tongil Tours will not be held responsible for changes in the itinerary that are beyond our control, and all travellers to the DPRK should maintain an attitude of flexibility at all times.

FURTHER DETAILS
Pre-departure briefing / orientation
Either on the train or at some point before you enter the DPRK, we will walk you through some important points relating to the tour and allow you an opportunity for any questions. More details at time of booking.

Pre-departure email
Before departure, we will send out a pre-departure email with general information to note for the trip such as what to pack, and other important information.

Optional reading list
With all of our tours, we send our participants an optional reading list (consisting mostly of items either free for view on the internet, or that will be shared with participants) to assist travellers in contextualising their North Korea travel experience. This is sent to travellers after a booking has been finalised.

Optional academic briefing
As specialists in educational tourism to the DPRK, we firmly believe in delivering an experience that is not only fun, but also allows travellers to learn a little about the country. We can arrange for academic experts in North Korean studies to conduct a 90 minute academic seminar over Skype. Contact us for more information.

Included in the tour fee:

  • Transport to and from Dandong or Beijing to Pyongyang. See booking details for transport options and pricing
  • Twin room lodging and accommodation in the DPRK (single supplement: €50/night)
  • Three meals a day in the DPRK (excluding optional meals in out of pocket restaurants)
  • All transportation in the DPRK
  • Local English-speaking DPRK guides
  • Korean-speaking Western academic guide from Tongil Tours
  • Most admission fees (see below)

Not included in the tour fee:

  • Round-trip airfare to Beijing from home country
  • DPRK visa fees and handling €65
  • Beijing hotel accommodations
  • Chinese visa fees and processing (if necessary)
  • Travel insurance and medical evacuation insurance (required)
  • Gifts, souvenirs, snacks, hotel services, miscellaneous purchases
  • Extra drinks during meals (one complimentary beer and bottled water included with most meals)
  • Out of pocket expenses (see below)

Out of pocket expenses
These expenses are not included in the tour fee. It will be necessary to bring a little extra in cash – either Chinese yuan, Euros, or US dollars, into North Korea to pay for these expenses on the day. Prices are listed in euros, but may also be payed in USD or RMB. Note that prices are subject to change.

  • Tips for the guides and driver (in total from each traveller), €5 euro per night stayed
  • Military Orchestra ticket, €20 euro
  • Arch of Triumph elevator ticket (for those wishing to see the view at the top), €2.5 euro
  • Juche Tower elevator ticket (for those wishing to see the view at the top), €5 euro
  • Micro-brewed beer (a pint) – €2 euro approx.
  • Possibility for a visit to a café, Italian, hamburger, or other special restaurant – €7- €14 euro approx.