KORYO TOURS history and projects we are
KORYO TOURS HISTORY
CULTURAL EXCHANGES- Schools/Sport
and the 1966 DPRK World Cup team return to UK
PROJECTS IN 2008
KORYO TOURS HISTORY
In 1992 Josh Green (a Chinese scholar and great
friend of mine), was working for a year in Pyongyang setting
up the TNT courier office. I was lecturing in Landscape Architecture
at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK. I visited Josh
in Pyongyang and straightaway I was hooked by this extraordinary
destination. With our North Korean friends in Pyongyang and
Beijing we set up Koryo Tours and are now the longest running
and most specialised travel company for North Korea. Simon
Cockerell joined in 2002 (after coming on one of the tours!)
and his background in philosophy and passion for travel has
allowed us to expand our tours content, destinations and cultural
activities. In 2006 Hannah Barraclough joined us- she is a
great character and events organiser and we are hoping we
can now expand our cultural activities as well as tour numbers.
In the last few years we have expanded the range
of activities to include trips based around specific interests
such as architecture, sport, and Korean history in addition
to our regular scheduled tours. As well as tourism we are
actively promoting cultural exchanges- anything from taking
the film 'Bend It Like Beckham' to Pyongyang film festival,
to school exchanges and football friendship matches.
Since 1996 Koryo Tours and VeryMuchSo Productions
have worked together to make two award winning documentary
films which show a side of North Korea never before seen.
Our first films took six years to arrange- the award winning
Game of Their Lives' 'The greatest story never told'
Wall Street Journal). Our second film for BBC4 was
State of Mind' following the daily life of a gymnast
leading to the Mass Games with quite incredible access.
Our latest documentary is 'Crossing
the Line' on the US military defectors.
Information about all our tours is available here on our
website, we try to be as flexible as possible so if you would
like to visit North Korea and your requirements are not covered
by any of our options then please let us know.
Thank you for your interest in tours to North Korea and for
taking the time to visit our website.The following is a collection
of the various projects we have completed.
Nicholas Bonner (Koryo Tours Director)
GAME OF THEIR LIVES
VeryMuchSo Production and Koryo Tours in conjuction
with Passion Pictures and BBC4. Dan Gordon (Director/Producer)
Nicholas Bonner (Associate Producer)
'The greatest sports story never told'
Ron Gluckman, Asian Wall Street Journal, Jan 2002
In 2003, 'The Game of Their Lives' won
the Royal Television Society award for best sports
documentary, received a nomination for Best Historical
Documentary at the Grierson Awards, a nomination for
Best Documentary at the British Independent Film Awards,
won first prize at the Seville Film Festival and the
2004 Refracting Reality Documentary Film Award at
the Seattle International Film Festival.
A STATE OF MIND www.astateofmind.co.uk
VeryMuchSo Production and Koryo Tours in conjuction with Passion Pictures,
BBC4 and ARTE . Dan Gordon (Director/Producer) Nicholas Bonner (Associate
Producer). 'A State of Mind' is an observational documentary film following
two North Korean schoolgirls and their families in the lead up to the Mass
Games - the biggest and most elaborate human performance on earth. Film
was broadcast on BBC4 and ARTE in June 2004. Check out the Faithless
video which uses our film clips.
"You have to understand, no one has ever been allowed to see, let alone film, what you are witnessing"
North Korean advisor to film crew
"The footage of the games is magnificent but it is the insight into Korean lives that is breathtaking. A beautiful film" Sunday Times
"Coolly observed and well filmed, it builds into a thought provoking picture of that bizarre nation, and culminates in an extraordinary finale
deserves to win awards" The Radio Times
THE LINE www.crossingthelinefilm.com
VeryMuchSo Production and Koryo Tours in conjuction with Passion Pictures, BBC4
and ARTE . Dan Gordon (Director/Producer) Nicholas Bonner (Co- Producer). Our
most ambitious doucmentary and the most amazing of stories...if this was fiction
it would be unbelievable: CROSSING THE LINE is scheduled to be released on
DVD in early 2008.
In the 1960’s, four US soldiers serving in the Korean Demilitarised Zone embarked on an extraordinary journey. At the height of the Cold War, this unlikely band of brothers crossed the most heavily fortified area on earth and defected to DPRK. No-one knew why they did it.
For nearly 40 years their life was hidden from the outside world.
Not even the US government knew their fate.
Only one remains in DPRK
This is his story.
To see Nick Bonner's CNN interview about the film
please see this link.
video uses our clips from the filming of 'A State of Mind'
RADIO 3 WORLD MUSIC Award winning show ( 2 x 40
minute programmes) with Andy Kershaw presenter. We sought
permission for the first ever radio programme in DPRK and
had incredible access listening to songs from the Schoolchildrens's
Palace to a soldier on the DMZ...but the star of the show
was without doubt the singing waitress who's voice would go
beyond borders. Broadcast 2004. Nominated for a Sony award-
RADIO 4 TRAVEL SHOW Critics choice (2 x 30 minute
programmes) on one of our tours to Pyongyang....but we are
turned back at the border.....do we get back in?! A very eventful
tour. Broadcast 2005. Nominated for a Sony award- please contact us if you wish for more details.
Pyongyang International Film Festival
||We helped organise the 2008 Pyongyang International
Film Festival with films from all over the world, including
British films Atonement, Touching the Void and the documentary
In 2006, together with Sean
Hinton at Ealing Studios and The Britsh Embassy we took
the films BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, MR BEAN - THE DISASTER MOVIE
and BRIDE and PREJUDICE - each film is watched by an audience
of around 12,000
Images below- the stars of DPRK's feature films of 2006 and audience watching Mr Bean
International School Exchange
We continue our football friendship tours with
another 40 players from Hong Kong and Holland who came for
a friendly with their Korean counterparts in June 2004....if
you are interested in playing or supporting our work please
let us know!! We are bringing the film 'Bend it like Beckham'
to the Pyongyang silver screen at their film festival in September....and
the British Embassy are sponsoring a football coach to train
KORYO TOURS and VMS productions who made the award
winning film 'The Game of Their Lives' and brought North Korea's
1966 World Cup Heroes return to England May 2003-
the DPRK's most significant cultural exchange with
Europe- over 100,000 football fans greeted them at
Everton, Middlesbrough and throughout the country
The return of the players who created the greatest
shock in World Cup history.
|| In a country that has
shunned almost all contact with Europe the return trip
was a significant event. The players are seen as 'revolutionary
heroes' in North Korea. For the DPRK Government to allow
them to return to UK was very uncharacteristic. FIFA at
the 2002 World Cup had failed to get Pak Do Ik to the
opening ceremony and the team has not been seen together
since 1966- in fact for 36 years the rumours had led us
to believe we would never find more than one of the 1966
World Cup squad let alone get the eight back to Middlesbrough.
Since the return trip various other events have taken place,
all in their own right important in creating dialogue between
the West and the 'hermit kingdom'.As Pak Do Ik so eloquently
learned that football is not only about the winning.
Wherever we go.
. . .playing football can improve diplomatic relations
and promote peace."
Pak Do Ik interview in our
film The Game of Their Lives, October 2001
For details of the return of the North Korean World Cup heroes
to UK look up the
GOTL website. If you require images for publicity purposes
please let us know and we can provide them.
Virgin Atlantic got a bronze Asian
Marketing Effectiveness Award for their sponsorship
of the project.
The following are a few anecdotes on the return trip:
Over 40,000 Everton fans and 33,000
Middlesbrough fans gave the North Korean players a standing
ovation as they were invited onto the pitch on match
day. It was especially passionate at Middlesbrough where
the players returned 'home' to their fans, the welcome
they received had the players in tears. The support
they received by the British public and even the press
throughout their three week stay was wonderful and very
The team met various friends they had not seen since their
last trip to UK (1966 including two Australian players they
beat to qualify in 1965!
||The Speaker of the House
invited the players to tea in his apartments after a
of the Houses of Parliament by the Sports Minister. The
FCO gave a welcoming reception to the players albeit
the day North Korea announced its processing of nuclear
· The players were welcomed back to DPRK as heroes-
there have been various articles in the DPRK press on the
visit. Dan and I were approached by a Korean in Kaesong (on
the border with South Korea) who had heard we took the players
back to UK and he thanked us and the people of Britain for
their hospitality. Word gets around!
·The North Korean team of 1966 were invited to the
celebrations for the Queens Birthday at the British Embassy
We have had interest in a joint South Korean/UK feature film
in the making based on the players story...so watch out!
June 2004 was our first Pyongyang Friendship
Golf tournament- odd we know- but in our experience it is
from projects like these that all sorts of positive links
can develop. Please contact us for details - or read about
the experience with the winner of the competition John Barton
in the GOLFERS
|Please contact us if you wish to donate to aid
agencies working in North Korea. In paticular we are keen to
support the work of Caritas who are doing incredible work in
difficult circumstances but have achieved great results. We
also assist a couple of small charities working with handicapped
children in DPRK and thoses requiring life saving operations-
we are happy to pass on their contacts if you wish.
|In 1995 we took the British Chamber
of Commerce in China on their first inspection trip of North
Korea. We provide introductions to western and North Korean
companies who specialise in developing business opportunities
in North Korea- our clients have included BAT, Johnson and Johnson
and private investors. We also escort individuals who wish to
visit North Korea as tourists but use the trip as an opportunity
to make an unofficial and cursory inspection into business opportunities
and the situation 'on the ground'.
SPORTS EXCHANGES: This year we
successfully ran the first ever cricket tour to the DPRK
in May, this
with a football
tour and a volleyball tour.In September we arranged an ice
hockey trip too, a team from Beijing and Shanghai played
the national youth team.
Images and reports from the ice hockey to come!
CRICKET May Day Holiday was a week of
several ‘firsts’ in Pyongyang – the first ever
cricket match and the first ever pub quiz! The cricket
match was held in Taesongsan Park and comprised of the Juche
Team & Reunification team (both made up of members from Shanghai
cricket club) and the Pyongyang Cricket Club – newly formed
for the event. The latter was made up of 4 Koreans who had never
played or seen cricket before, the Koryo Tours staff, a few tourists
and a delegate from the British Embassy in Pyongyang. The event
was sponsored by DHL who paid for the shipment of a roll of coconut
matting from the UK to Pyongyang and had support from the DPRK
Ministry of Sport. The match went superbly. The opening batsmen
were 2 Koreans who played incredibly well especially considering
they had only picked up a cricket bat once before at a practise
in Moranbong park a few days earlier. Picnic lunch was provided
by accordian-playing waitresses and after the 2nd match we had
a traditional cucumber tea. Despite not getting the highest scores,
the PCC were the clear winners that day (trophy in the Koryo
Tours office!). The day rounded off with a sunset boat trip along
the Taedonggang followed by a black-tie dinner in the Yanggakdo
DPRK's 1st Batsman (left),
The Cricket Pitch (above), coaching a Korean (right)