09 October, 2006

North Korea...to go or not to go?

Over the weekend, a couple of friends here in Beijing told me about a trip to North Korea, planned for the last weekend in October. Basically, it's a golf/sight-seeing trip with a "business" twist.

As soon as I heard about it I immediately said "I'm in." How many chances does one get to go to North Korea? I'm not afraid to go...what's the worst that could happen? Well, I guess there are plenty of bad things that could happen to a US citizen in North Korea...but what are the chances of them happening?

So, I started looking into it this morning. My main concern was the possibility of getting a "North Korean" stamp on my passport. Would US Customs say "WTF were you doing there? Get the hell out of the US and never come back?" I doubt it, but hey, who knows with the political mess going on there. I couldn't get an answer to this today, the US Embassy in Beijing is closed today...Columbus Day. (Kev (brother) left some info. in the comments section, thanks Kev!)

I then called the group in Beijing that is organizing this. They needed some info. from me and then called me back just a little bit ago with the news.... Turns out, North Korea had their first nuclear test today and it was "successful." Well, politically, the shit will likely hit the fan late tonight (US morning). So, these guys aren't too keen on taking some Americans with them this time around. Four guys, including myself got the rejection based on today's news. DAMN!

But, not to worry...they are planning another trip in May 2007. So, assuming that North Korea doesn't completely fall apart or the US and/or any other countries don't invade it by or before May 2007...I'm definitely in for the next trip.

Why would I or should I not go?


You can see the 4.2 quake it caused recorded here...

Here's the info. I originally received...

"A unique opportunity to combine business and pleasure in Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), often referred to as N. Korea - a combination of business, golf and sightseeing!
One full day golf
A full one-day Golf Challenge on the par-72 Taesong Golf Course (beside Lake Taesong). Prizes will be offered, and a percentage of the money raised will be donated to the Korea Sports Fund.
One full day of business

A seminar on Monday morning covering:
Business overview of N. Korea economy, foreign trade policy, investment climate and environment
General understanding of business and trade opportunities
Overview of investment policy and laws governing foreign and JV enterprises
Meetings (by arrangement), or business-related industrial and factory tour on Monday afternoon.
Plus: Monday evening Reception with members of the Pyongyang business community in attendance."

19 comments:

Kev said...

Here's some info. if you need more check out travel.state.gov and go to Consular Information Sheets.

The United States does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations with the DPRK. The Swedish Embassy located in Pyongyang acts as its interim consular protective power and provides basic consular services to U.S. citizens traveling in North Korea. Please refer to Special Circumstances for additional information.

See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on the DPRK and other countries.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: North Korean visas are required for entry. The U.S. Government does not issue letters to private Americans seeking North Korean visas, even though in the past such letters have sometimes been requested by DPRK embassies. As the vast majority of travelers enter North Korea from China, prospective travelers must also obtain a two-entry visa for China. A valid Chinese visa is essential for departing North Korea at the conclusion of a visit or in an emergency. While the Republic of Korea (South Korea, or ROK) government is attempting to open direct travel routes to the DPRK, routine travel from the ROK to the DPRK is currently prohibited. Travel across the demilitarized zone (DMZ) is allowed only infrequently for official and government-authorized cultural and economic exchanges, or aid shipments. There are no regularly operating direct commercial flights from South to North Korea at this time. U.S. citizens who arrive in North Korea without a valid U.S. passport and North Korean visa may be detained, arrested, fined, or denied entry. Individuals traveling to North Korea report that fees for local travel costs (taxi, tolls, permits and the cost for security personnel assigned to escort foreigner visitors) can be high and arbitrary.

Where To Obtain A North Korean Visa: There is no DPRK embassy in the United States. U.S. citizens and residents planning travel to North Korea must obtain DPRK visas in third countries, for example in Beijing, China. For information about entry requirements and restricted areas, contact the DPRK Mission to the United Nations in New York. Address inquiries to:

The Permanent Representative of the Democratic
People’s Republic of Korea to the United Nations
820 Second Avenue
New York, New York 10017,
Tel: (212) 972-3105
Fax: (212) 972-3154

Americans living abroad can contact the DPRK Embassy, if any, in their country of residence.

U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea may obtain their visas at the DPRK Embassy in Beijing, China, which will issue visas only after receiving authorization from the DPRK Foreign Ministry in Pyongyang. Prior to traveling to the region, travelers may wish to confirm that authorization to issue their visa has been received from Pyongyang. Americans can call the North Korean Embassy in Beijing prior to their travel by telephone at (86-10) 6532-1186 or (86-10) 6532-1189 (fax: (86-10) 6532-6056).

Find more information about Entry and Exit Requirements pertaining to dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information. Please see “Special Circumstances” below.

Kev said...

By the way YOUR'RE AN IDIOT, why the hell would you want to go there?

manninchina said...

Kev, thanks for the info. You were going to get a call tonight.

Why do I want to go? ... It's some place not many people get to go to, or will get to go to ... until it is toppled and rebuilt, anyway.

Esteban said...

Man,

Although I do agree it would be interesting to go and quite a story to tell when picking chicks up... I'd rather not go in your place... North Korea looks like it could burst into flames any minute now.

Krista said...

Mike, stay your butt in Beijing radiation-free please! Hate to have to send the Lenovo mafia over there to rescue you :-)

Watched part of a wonderful documentary on Discovery Channel last night Atlas: China Revealed http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/atlas/china/china.html?clik=visit_site.

What shocked me was evidently the young professional Chinese are quite appearance-conscious, in terms of aesthetic physical features. Showed one young lady getting plastic surgery to be prettier and appear more Westernized. Tivo'd so I'll be watching the whole thing later.

Give me your perspective. K

Hazen said...

dude, you are friggin nuts to go there. it ain't like going to the beach, its friggn North Korea. The description was mondo hilarious tho, talking about "unique opportunity to combine business and pleasure in Pyongyang". not too sure those phrases have ever been uttered before.

Chad said...

Save your time and money and just visit Chapel Hill when you get back to NC. Whats the difference? :-)

manninchina said...

Alright, alright...I can't go this time around anyway. No Americans allowed on this trip, due to the nuke test. However, when next May comes around and if I can go, I am defintely in. I can't picture anything bad happening to me while there. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to go to a place that not many "foreigners" have ever or will ever go to.

Krista,

Yes, "China Revealed" is great...I've seen bits & pieces over the last week.

As for the girls... I think the girls here are very similar
to girls in the US, the difference is, they want to be just like US girls. In the US, the US girls
want to be just like famous US girls.

I think the plastic surgery is also just like in the US... girls that want to change something about their appearance, change it...if they have the money to do so

Leah said...

Ok, I know this is probably something you won't be interested in, but Oprah just did a show on North Korea and Lisa Ling went undercover there. Its freaky how isolated they are. Her N. Korean gaurds flipped out on her for having a fashion magazine because they did not want anyone to see how "outside" women dress, act and look. Check out Oprah.com or national geographic for the info on her time there. Its shocking. I think you should stay put. China seems crazy enough.

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North Korea: Nuclear genie comes out of the bunker