Koryo Tours — the experts in travel to rather unusual destinations.
Our mission: to facilitate responsible tourism to the world’s most isolated and least understood countries while encouraging people-to-people engagement through travel, culture, sport and humanitarian projects.
Koryo’s co-founder was a lecturer at a Beijing university in the early 1990s when he met a DPRK citizen, and took his first trip to Pyongyang. The experience inspired him to set up Koryo in 1993, and he’s been travelling there ever since. Nick’s unprecedented approach in the DPRK has resulted in three documentaries, and a feature film. His work on the award-winning Korea pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale broke new ground by uniting creatives from both sides.
Originally from the UK, Simon moved to Beijing in 2000, before joining Koryo in 2002. As the company’s GM, he has travelled to the DPRK more than 150 times. His in-depth knowledge of DPRK tourism has led him to become a respected speaker on the subject. Simon’s tireless work, alongside our partners in Pyongyang, has been essential in opening up new territories within the DPRK to tourists, and he is often the first Western traveller to previously closed locations.
Jessica grew up in Germany, where she went to university in Berlin, before continuing her studies in Seoul, which is where she first became intrigued by the DPRK (North Korea). Such was her interest that she wrote her thesis on developments within the country’s economy, and then worked for a Seoul-based foundation focused on inter-Korean affairs. Jessica began working for Koryo in 2014 and is now head of group tours. She has been to every single province in the DPRK.
Jamie runs Koryo’s private tours team, which arranges bespoke trips of the DPRK upon request. Born in Seattle, he studied natural sciences and Korean at university in Washington, before attending a graduate programme in Pennsylvania. His dedication to learning Korean resulted in a move to Seoul as a Fulbright Scholar, and then further study in China’s Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture. Jamie moved to Pyongyang in 2013 as a guest lecturer at a DPRK university before joining Koryo Tours in 2014. He speaks three languages: English, Chinese and Korean.
As a teenager, rather than join friends at Disneyland Paris, Rich saved up for his first trip — from England to Gambia in West Africa. A career in travel beckoned, and in 2001 he became a tour leader with Explore, a British adventure travel company. He has since led tours to more than 40 countries. In 2012, Rich joined Koryo, where he uses his ten years of DPRK travel to help customers plan bespoke itineraries. His extensive global experience has led him to develop other exciting destinations for Koryo Tours, such as Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Mongolia.
Rebecca looks after Koryo’s agents — other companies that use our expert services to help them deliver tours of the DPRK. Born in Beijing, Rebecca went to university in the Chinese capital, where she studied English. Alongside fluently speaking two languages, she also has two degrees, earning her second in Singapore. She returned to Beijing in 2010, and has been working for Koryo ever since. Rebecca has successfully planned trips with close to 100 agents. She regularly travels to the DPRK to ensure she is providing the best information possible for our partners.
Koryo’s headquarters in Beijing would fall apart without Zafina — our multi-talented office manager and accountant, who was born in the Chinese capital, and studied here, too. After graduating from the Business College of Beijing Union University, she joined Koryo in 2012, and ensures the smooth running of both our physical office — where all pre-tour briefings take place — as well as the company’s accounts and payment systems. Zafina also helps co-ordinate operations at our art studio, which is the first Western gallery to commission, exhibit and sell work by artists from the DPRK.
Vicky graduated in visual communication from Edinburgh College of Art. After working as a freelance filmmaker in Scotland she moved to Beijing in 2008 where she set up the city's leading art-house film organisation. As Koryo’s creative projects manager she has travelled to the DPRK more than 20 times, and produced ground-breaking artistic projects, such as the country's first-ever Western photography show, and Koryo’s time-lapse video ‘Enter Pyongyang’ (five million views); she also co-ordinates all overseas submissions to the Pyongyang International Film Festival.
Elinor was born in Beijing, and completed her undergraduate at the city’s Wuzi University, where she studied English and business administration. Before joining Koryo in 2016 she worked for an international trading company. Elinor now uses her well-developed administrative skills as Koryo’s business assistant. Perhaps most importantly, her keen eye for detail, not to mention her mastery of difficult documents, means she is a perfect match for the key role of managing the thousands of DPRK (North Korea) visa applications we process each year.
Koryo’s co-founder, Nick Bonner, was a lecturer at a Beijing university in the early 1990s when he met a DPRK citizen, and took his first trip to Pyongyang. The experience inspired him to set up Koryo Tours in 1993, and he’s been travelling there ever since. Koryo is now the world's leading travel specialist to DPRK (North Korea), and takes more than 2,000 people to this extraordinary destination every year.
Koryo Tours, its staff and its trips frequently feature in the media — whether that be as experts discussing travel to the DPRK, or coverage of one of our exciting tours. Please see below for a selection of stories about what we've been up to.
Explore the North Korean capital of Pyongyang in this intriguing time-lapse of a city rarely seen by foreigners.video.nationalgeographic.com
A British expat who leads tours to the isolated DPRK explains why there are things to like about it.telegraph.co.uk
Meet the Beijing-based Briton seeking to promote ties with DPRK (North Korea) via travel and film.ft.com
A Beijing-based tour company specializing in North Korea tours is offering a rare train journey that goes far beyond the country's "already exposed" capital.edition.cnn.com
Simon Cockerell, general manager of Koryo Tours, tells the BBC about why tourists want to go on holiday to North Korea.bbc.co.uk
A group of tourists have become the first to complete a cycling tour of North Korea — on a trip organised by a British-run travel company.