10. TRAVELLING ACROSS NORTH KOREA BY TRAIN!
In May 2014 we took an intrepid group of tourists for our first ever train tour – something we have been keen to do since we first started travelling to DPRK, and which we have been pushing for since Koryo founder, Nick Bonner, travelled to Mount Paekdu by train while shooting award winning documentary, A State of Mind.
Take a look at some of the footage we captured on our epic journey from Pyongyang to Chongjin, via Wonsan and Hamhung, and then check out our 2015 train tour, right here.
|North Korea by Rail
9. WINNING THE GOLDEN LION IN VENICE!
Building on decades of cultural exchange with North Korean artists, Nick Bonner commissioned paintings depicting visions of the future of architecture in North Korea, for the Korea Pavilion at the Venice Architectural Biennale – helping the pavilion to win the Golden Lion.
“We asked them to go crazy, to see what they would come up with given absolutely no constraints.”
Read more here.
8. PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN PYONGYANG!
2014 saw us offering trolley bus rides on all Pyongyang city tours – check out the video below to catch a glimpse of what it’s like to rumble around Pyongyang in a vintage trolley bus!
Also this year we were allowed to do a preview tour of the entire Pyongyang Metro system – our 2015 public transport and architecture tours will also be allowed to see these so-called ‘secret’ stations.
|Go Pro North Korean Tram and Trolleybus Rides
7. CONTINUING OUR HUMANITARIAN WORK
At Koryo Tours, we have always been firm believers in responsible tourism, every year we facilitate humanitarian projects which benefit the people of North Korea. We never take in money, only goods that we ensure are delivered to where they are needed.
At the start of 2014 we launched an appeal to raise money to rebuild the school building attached to the Wonsan Primary School Orphanage. We’re pleased to say that thanks to the generosity of our tourists and some invaluable support from the British Embassy in Pyongyang, the project was completed in July 2014.
Wonsan Primary School Orphanage BEFORE
Wonsan Primary School Orphanage AFTER
In 2015 Koryo are working to raise a total of €40,000 to deliver 8 containers of nutritional
food packets to 8 orphanages.
These specially formulated meals are needed to ensure that the orphans receive all the necessary vitamins and minerals for heathy growth. Read more here.
6. TEACHING NORTH KOREANS HOW TO SKI
In January 2014 after no little controversy in the global press, North Korea’s first ski resort opened up at Masik Pass – we were among the first to test out the slopes, and brought over a ski instructor to help our guides master their newly required ski skills!
In winter, our tours have an optional Masik Pass Ski Extension if you fancy hitting the slopes of North Korea – or staying in one of DPRK’s fanciest hotels!
|North Koreans Learning to Ski
5. ATTENDING THE ‘CANNES OF THE EAST’
Koryo Tours has a long standing relationship with cinema in North Korea and the Pyongyang International Film Festival – and this year was no exception! After delivering a popcorn machine to the April 25th Film Studio earlier in the year, we then helped co-ordinate hundreds of international submissions to the Pyongyang International Film Festival and took a group of tourists to the 14th edition of PIFF. We also spotted a new addition to the hand-painted posters at the entrance to the International Cinema House – our very own Comrade Kim Goes Flying!
|Pyongyang International Film Festival
4. EXPANDING OUR HORIZONS
Our team at Koryo is made up of a group of passionate travellers, artists and adventurers, we thrive on developing new cultural projects – and exploring new destinations! In 2015 we went beyond DPRK with trips to Turkmenistan, Magadan, Mongolia and Tofalaria, our intrepid tourists travelled on horseback, by 4×4 and helicopter – some even hopping on the back of a reindeer! One of our Turkmenistan tourists, Patrik Wallner captured some incredible footage in the video below.
In 2015, we’re excited to expanding our portfolio with another truly innovative Asian adventure - The Republic of Tajikistan!
3. VISITING A PYONGYANG APARTMENT
Almost every tour group we have taken to the DPRK since 1993 has asked the same question: “can we see where North Koreans live?” – up until 2014 the response was a chuckle from our guides, and “maybe next year”.
Finally in April our Architecture Tour group were able to do just that, and visited a brand new housing complex occupied by faculty of Kim Il Sung University – read the full account on our blog.
2. OUR PYONGYANG TIMELAPSE WENT VIRAL!
Travelling to the top of the Juche Tower before 5am on a clear and chilly day in late April, we knew the timelapse video of Pyongyang we were shooting with JT Singh and photographer Rob Whitworth was going to be special – but when the views on the Vimeo upload started climbing past one, two, and then three million views, we were stunned!
Anyone who has travelled to North Korea with us knows that being able to see locals in Pyongyang going about their daily business can be a wonderful once in a lifetime travel experience – and through the incredible technical skills of Rob, we were able to share this experience with almost four million viewers.
1. RUNNING THROUGH THE STREETS OF PYONGYANG!
It’s been an incredible year for us at Koryo Tours but the highlight just has to be running the Pyongyang Marathon in April. Having old ladies cheer us on, and young kids high-fiving us before running off giggling this was the engagement experience.
Whether it was getting a medal, simply finishing the route, or even cheering from the stands, all of our tourists (and the five Koryo Tours tour leaders who ran) had an incredible day. We’re excited to launch the Koryo Cup for 2015 and are looking forward to taking an unprecedented numbers of tourists over for the race.
|The Road to Pyongyang
HERE’S TO 2015!
So that was 2014… we’d like to extend genuine thanks to all our tourists, collaborators, and supporters who helped make our 21st year our best yet. We wish you all the best in 2015 – and if your travels happen to bring you to Beijing, do drop by the office, we’d love to see you!
Happy New Year!
From all of us at Koryo Tours!