Tour Articles and Testimonies
Here you will find articles
and emails we have had from past tourists who have travelled
with us to the DPRK. You will be able to see for yourself
that a trip to the DPRK is the trip of a lifetime.
1) NEWSPAPER ARTICLES
We are often in the travel press and we think the
best is to type into the search engine google either: KORYO
TOURS or Nicholas Bonner or Simon Cockerell and see what you
come up with! We follow with one or two pieces but also see
Wheeler of Lonely Planet writes
about his trip with us
April 7, 2005 (Agence French Press AFP) -Englishman Martin
Boyle is not a defector, an aid worker, a diplomat or an undercover
journalist. Just what is he doing, then, in North Korea, one
of the world's most isolated and maligned nations?
a game of pool in one of Pyongyang's few luxury hotels, the
42-year-old university lecturer from London recounts his meetings
with North Korean soldiers on the demilitarized zone that
divides the communist north from the capitalist south.
With excitement and enthusiasm, he explains his week in North
Korea has also taken him to an urban school where he has helped
teach students and to rural areas of the country that very
few Westerners have ever visited. Boyle is one of a tiny number
of Western tourists who venture to North Korea each year and,
although his travels may make the likes of US President George
W. Bush incredulous, he has thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
"I don't know whether it's the best place I have been
to but it's certainly got to be the most memorable. I'd certainly
like to come back," Boyle tells an AFP correspondent
who is in North Korea to report on the nation's recent
Cup football qualifying matches. Fewer than 2,000 Western
tourists visit North Korea annually, according to Beijing-based
Nick Bonner, the director of Koryo Tours who has been taking
foreigners into the land of the mostly unknown for the
The numbers have crept up only slightly since North Korea
began allowing Western tourists in during the late 1980s.
2)TOUR REPORTS and HIGHLIGHTS OF RECENT YEARS
INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2006
conjunction with the British Embassy and Sean Hinton
we took the
films 'Bride and Prejudice' and 'Mr Bean,the Disaster
Movie' to the Pyongyang Film Festival - seen by over
12,000 Pyongyang citizens. This was quite remarkable.
The next film festival will be in September 2008.
PO CHUN UNITED WORLD COLLEGE OF HONG KONG March 2005,
2006 & May 2007
We have organised 3 trips in total for this Hong Kong-based international
school where they travel to the DPRK and visit a middle school
there. This has prove to be a great learning experience for
'...UWC provides small but poweful cells of innovation...opening
up broader vistas of experience for both pupils and educationalists'
Simon and Nick, thank
you so much for all your work in arranging for our school
group to visit North Korea, the first group of foreign
ever to visit DPRK. May I take this opportunity to than you
for the for the wonderful job you both did in preparing
students for their experience, both through this information
and the insight you provided, and through the impeccable
to detail in your organisation. The students have had quiet
a life-changing experience, and we remain indebted to you
for all your efforts on our behalf. Needless to say, we
hoping to take another group of students to North Korea at
the same time next year, and I look forward to working
you both once again towards that purpose.
to the website of Dr Stephen Codrington who arranged
a very sad moment at the border between North and
Korea, our school which comprises of students from
all over the work is a symbol of unity, whereas
separating North and South Korea is a sigh of failure,
of disunuity, (student Yahya, Tanzania).
have arranged various football friendship tour which
have been a great success. Teams include an ex pat
term and a Dutch team based in Beijing playing two DPRK teams.
The highlight of the day was the picnic where all nations
sat down and shared a meal and then a big mixed match,
and female players, Korean Dutch English, Chinese, African
some fit and some fat- some stretching whilst others
and drinking for their warm up....has to be seen to be
Click here for
a link to newspaper reports about the football tours.
year sees some change whether it be increase access to the
Korean people or opening up of new sights. We have also managed
at last to start localised tourism - ie getting funds paid
direct to locals for putting on activities. This includes
a cooking demonstration put on by locals for thse who stay
ovedrnight at Kaesong, traditional music and a visit to a
co-operative farm. The images below show May Day celebrations
where we are taken to the local celebrations on Daesong Park
and allowed to mix freely with the locals and even invited
to join in and it impacts greatly on tourists and locals alike.
BEAUTIFUL SINGER ON EARTH
In 2003 we took
in BBC radio presenter Andy Kershaw and made the first
ever music program on the
country. We discovered Comrade Chae the very beautiful and
talented 25 year old waitress who performed Sinatra's
Way' (which has found itself into North Korea somehow) amongst
other classics such as 'A Big Rabbit of Our Sub Branch',
Love An Unmarried Disabled Soldier', and the memorable 'Who
Is the Women's Association Chairman?' Download this
winning show on http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/world/northkorea.shtml
"As Kershaw discovered, there's a beating heart behind
the façade of the average soldier or spokesman, and
often real musical talent. One of the waitresses he coaxed
into song had a vibrato spanning half an octave but other
singers were bewitching. Most children in this "uncivilised"
land learn an instrument. The Axis of Evil may not be buried
yet, but this documentary represented one more nail in its
coffin." (Michael Church, The Independent, 06/01/04)
are a few links from ex tourists and other people we have
worked with in promoting DPRK through cultural exchanges.
If you have made one yourself or come across any others that
you think are particularly interesting then do send us the
Wheeler of Lonely Planet writes about his trip with
A great insight
from Arne a German tourist who travelled back in
2000 but still very relevant.
Jennings travelogue which includes his experience of
playing football in DPRK
Great images from one of our tourists at http://www.ambroise-baz.com
A great report written
by an Englishman who travelled to the DPRK in August 2007
to coach a local school team.
||(From a tourist on our Winter tour 2007)
Just a quick email to say thankyou so much for
We had a fantastic time, an amazing experience, and so
much of that was down to you guys and all your hard work,
and for that I am eternally grateful.
It honestly was really great to meet the three of you,
to be able to pester you all with countless questions...
enlightening discussions...You are quite an infectious
trio to be around you know!
Hope to stay in touch.
Hi Mark and Nick, I just wanted to say
thanks for the excellent
vacation. My only regret is that I may never find anything
to top it.
The Korean guides were absolutely terrific and the service
Tours was fantastic. Clearly you have won the trust of
people and are able to open many doors to this fascinating
you ever need a reference or recommendation please let
Bill Forsyth (travelled in October
through our partner in the USA - New Korea Tours)
I hope those who stayed on for the football and/or Dandong had great experiences.
The highlight of our train trip back was perhaps the North Korean guard confiscating
my (admittedly pink) lip balm because 'it's for girl'.
Keep in touch,
[To see David's fantastic photos from the trip please click here -
if anyone wants to ask him any questions about his trip then we can provide contact
returned from an amazing week in the DPRK and am already
boring people senseless as we're finding hard to talk
about anything else. Backing up what I read elsewhere,
it's difficult to appreciate the otherworldliness of
the DPRK until you've seen it for yourself, right from
embarking on the '60s style kitsch-decorated Russian
jet of Air Koryo at Beijing airport, with splendid
in-flight service (although I think we were all glad
when it landed...), to leaving, slightly wistfully,
by train across the Amnok river back into noisy, bustling
course we didn't really get to see how the average DPRK
person really lives, but did get a feeling that just
seeing us there helps them engage with the world just
a little. Our guides were excellent, both Mr Pak and
Mrs Lee spoke superb English and once they'd got to know
us, relaxed and were warm, interesting and surprisingly
open. Mrs Lee also has an excellent singing voice! As
well as the guides, everyone we met, in restaurants,
hotels etc was helpful and courteous.Everything was an
experience, be it the Stalinist grandeur of Pyongyang,
the surprisingly smiley military at the DMZ, trying dog
soup, playing volleyball with the locals in Wonsan, to
the Egyptian nightclub and casino in the hotel. Now I
can't wait to go back, hopefully for a Mass Games, and
can't praise Simon and Koryo Tours enough for organizing
everything so well. The itinerary was varied and interesting,
and obtaining the visa almost felt easy...George
(From an independent tourist - August 2007)
Dear Hannah, Our trip to the DPRK was really great - it was
among the most interesting travels I've done so far (if not
interesting). I'd like to thank you again for the good organisation,
everything went more than well. About the rain: it was no
problem for us at all, I was only so sorry for the poor people
there. On the contrary: countries like these tend to reveal
their more interesting facettes especially in "challenging
times" (I still vividly remember 2003's SARS crisis
in China which I had the "honour" to experience
first-hand - but I guess you remember too ;-)). It was thus
extremely interesting to see how the DPRK dealt with the
situation. And as the rain didn't last the entire week we
had some wonderful sunny days too, so no problem there. And,
as I said, everything was well organised and went perfectly
fine. Hope you are well, and best greetings to Beijing! Lisi
(From a US tourist - August 2007)
Dear Hannah, A million thanks for the tour to the most fascinating
country in the world! It was all I dreamt it would be and much
I really appreciate your time and patience in making the
trip truly enjoyable, memorable and educational. I hope to
travel with Koryo Tours again in the future.
Please send my thanks to Simon and Nick as well.
(From an independent tourist
- August 2007)
Dear Hannah, Thanks for the great trip to DPRK! It was very well organised and
extremely interesting. We were very happy with our guides as well. And Arirang
- that was unforgettable!!!
Hope to see you soon,
Lea & Teemu
(From a US tourist - August 2007)
Just a quick note to say thanks once again for all your help with my recent tour.
I have just returned home and am reflecting on what has truly been the trip
of a lifetime. I greatly appreciate the help from all the folks there at
Koryo Tours...if I may ever be of assistance or if you ever need a testimonial,
please don't hesitate to contact me.
Thanks Again and with best Regards, Tom Cooper
(From an independent tourist in May 2007)
I just returned from the DPRK, and still cannot imagine what
a fantastic trip I had. I would especially like to thank
Pak, who accompanied me on an unscheduled walk in Kaesong,
and 2 in Pyongyang. She also let me photograph some North
Koreans, of course with their permission! It helped me see
the real DPRK. I'm attaching some photos from my trip, I
would appreciate if you could pass some of them to Jong and
Pak, since I had promised them I'll send them the snaps.
What a fantastic trip. Thanks to Simon and his partners in crime for having the cojones not just to go to the axis of evil's most wanted but to bring a tourload of foreigners along with you. Kudos for being so enterprising and thanks for putting your faith in us, it must be nerve-wracking but you showed good humour throughout and only tried to have us killed once. Speaking of which, BBC World reported the Down with Imperialism Union founding day parade as 'an ominous parade of unknown intentions'. What an eye opening trip this has been, I'd never realised how one-sided news and history can be. We're fortunate in our countries to be able to hear all points of view and from now on I'll exercise that right more vigourously - http://news.google.com is a good starting point. You can select several newspapers from which to read a particular story.
Thanks again to all for good company and good times. Definitely the most interesting trip of my life.
Slán agus go néirí an bóthar
Hi Nick,i Iwould just like to say thanks for running such a great tour,
every aspect of it was fantastic! Our guides were Mr Kim and Mr
Che and they were brilliant, so much more relaxed than I had anticipated,
they let us see and understand so much. Both the group and myself
had a truly memorable experience. Good luck with future film projects.Regards,Laura
PRIVATE TOUR SEPTEMBER
Dear Nick, Good to hear the film festival went
well and that Mr. Bean's appeal is universal.
Thanks a bunch for arranging a wonderful trip. Your presence definitely
helped us see things we might not have been able to see and get a point
of view that others who write without contact with 'that world' can't
Best wishes, Sam
Just writing to thank you again for organising what was
certainly one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
I'm not normally a group tourperson, but yourself, Koryo
and KITC provided what was a fascinating and
enjoyable trip within the obvious confines of the DPRK's
red tape and the
karaoke and beer tasting sidelines were much enjoyed! I
recommend Koryo to my friends who showed an interest in
going to DRPK at some point! I'll never be able to listen
to House of the Rising Sun again
in quite the same way....
I'll try and get a few of my pics online and will let you
know when I do.
Hi Simon, a quick thank you
from Thailand, it was definitely one of the most amazing
trips of my life which it wouldn't have been without such
an amazing group
and your professional leadership
style, especially at the North-Korean no-go zone in the hotel.
Will catch up as soon as I get back to the UK, all the best
Simon, Firstly, thanks so much for a great tour - I think
it is really important to have the right person to be
organiser for such a trip - managing a bunchof independent,
intelligent, very inquisitive travellers in such a way
as to ensure that both the travellers get what they want
and the North Koreans arekept happy can never be easy
- you did it extremely well!! Very knowledgeable, and
more importantly, balanced (as in opinions....) and fun.
Thanks. I hope the Dandong leg went well - sorry that
I couldn't make it. I managed to get my flights re-booked,
so no worries!!Thanks. and thanks again for a great visit
to North Korea.
Hannah, I would like to say big
thanks to you and Nick for every aspect of the tour.
myself and Zdenek we felt it "a tour once in
a lifetime" and did appreciate the perfect organization
and everything around. You both are great people and
we enjoyed the week with you. If there would be another
place like this on this planet we would definitely
go there with you. We have been to many strange places
but never have people been so interested in listening
to us like when we came back from North Korea. We
had to tell everyone again and again and show the
photos and DVD. It is nice (and funny) to be considered
by our friends "experts" on North Korea.Wish
you all the best and if, by chance, we get sometimes
to Beijing we will definitely stop in your office.
Btw, our DVD is ok and we watch the latest reports
on nuclear tests with more interest than before.With
regards, Vlado and Zdenek
August 2006 Hi Hannah,
I would just like to say a huge thanks to
all at Koryo Tours in general, and to yourself in particular,
for a wonderful tour to DPRK. It was
a great experience and a unique opportunity to see something
of the world's
most mysterious country. Wendy and myself had the added interest
seeing the DMZ from the opposite side at Panmunjom. It was
experience but presented in an extremely Americanised hyped-up
way. No photos, no standing in the bus, no pointing, no touching
etc. etc. We did get close to the South
Korean guards though, including some photos, but we certainly
the visit from the North. A huge thanks also to our guides
Mr. Li and Miss Choe, and Mr. Kim and Miss Kim when we were
to Group B. They were all great. I will certainly
be sending some prints for forwarding on to them.Highlights
for me were - Kumsusan Memorial Palace (awesome), Mt. Paekdu
(with the lucky weather break obviously arranged by Mr. Li),
the show at the
Children's Palace (unbelievably good), the impromptu dancing
with the local gathering
near to Juche Tower (great fun and I believe appreciated
and enjoyed by the
local gathering), the visit to the DMZ with the singing Colonel
Panmunjom (very interesting), 4 euro bottles of Napolian
Orange Brandy (no
comment).Thanks again Hannah and for your follow-up emails.
No doubt you enjoyed a
very large G & T once you had got rid of the rabble.
Very glad to see that you are running a special tour for
the games in April. I will very likely
be booking for it in the near future.Best wishes to you all,
August 2006 Hi Hannah,
This was my third trip and I discovered again amazing things !
Thanks to you for all (Nick, Simon, and you)
||July 2006 Hi Nick and Simon
Just a quick note to say a big thank you for such a fab trip to the DPRK. I
really didn‚t know what to expect (as the others would agree) and it exceeded
my expectations. It was a real privilege to have visited and it was a fascinating
insight to a fascinating country. Above all it dispelled many myths that surround
the country and having visited, albeit it seen the surface, I can now talk more
knowledgeably about it and the situation. You've got a great little
company there. Hope one day soon to return on another of your trips. Good
luck for this year and future trips.
Best wishes. Thanks again Stel
Got all the pics safely on my computer now, so you can delete
them. Thanks a lot again for taking care of these and going through all the download-hassle. Thanks also for the wonderful tour. I really enjoyed it and as I said before "I did more in five days in North Korea than in several years' worth of holidays before that" which
either makes for a nice credential for you or makes me look
MAY 2006 Hi Hannah,
that was far and away the best holiday I've had, thanks to you all for
organising it so well. I'll definitely come back for the mass games next
year and will will drag friends along , sadly I cant really afford
another trip this year.
I'm putting together a website about the trip www.dprk2006.com so we can
all share our photos etc. I can let you see the content before it is
widely available on the web if you want to make sure there is nothing
that would be detrimental to our guides.
As for feedback the whole trip was so well organised, it went much more
smoothly than I was expecting, I felt very well looked after the whole
time, it was good of the guides to be flexible , for example letting us
visit the metro, the only improvement i could suggest is that your
website is a bit confusing when initially booking the tour, confirmation
of booking would be useful, but thats really a small point.
I attach a photo of some of us with the Colonel , he was such a jolly
chap, the visit to the observation post was one of my favourite parts of
|APRIL 2006 Dear Simon,
Many thanks for the e-mail, addresses and info, and, of course, for organising
such a memorable trip! It surpassed expectations (when some travel destinations
can disappoint!), and I have just spoken about it in Sixth Form Assembly here
at School this morning!
As I said to Nick, I would warmly recommend Koryo to anyone (well, anyone whom
I felt would enjoy and benefit from a visit to the DPRK!), and I really do hope
to return sometime. I had a word with him about the feasibility of taking a group
of sixthformers, and I’ll be having a word with the Head as soon as I can
to see what she thinks. We’ll
give the Wheel of Death a miss, though!
It’s hard to know how to improve on the trip, when so much is up to the
guides and things at the time. Ideally not nearly missing two trains – though
Danny had something to do with the delay in Pyongyang! I’ve already suggested
that Dangdong might be refined, with perhaps only one restaurant meal, allowing
time to wander (free!) and barter for badges etc, with a supper
box on the train.
But I have no complaints, but rather huge gratitude to all at Koryo and unforgettable
memories of the week! I’m not digital yet, but I’ll see what I get
in the way of photos etc. Do keep me in touch with Koryo’s progress, poster
deliveries, etc, and make sure that you sort out a Turkmenistan tour in school
holidays, please – you
need the teachers and students to be able to participate!
April 2006 (visit
with father and two sons- the father 's aim to travel on
as may options as possible in Korea - he managed a horse
(albeit a handmade life-size stuffed horse used for portraits),
bicycle, car, train, metro, plane )
hey Simon, we're back in Beijing and we'd like to tell you that every moment in the DPRK was magical and awe-inspiring. Plans are in the works for Dad and Sean to return with their wives in the future. We'd like to take this moment to thank you for everything you did to get us into and around in DPRK. Thanks much.
Brent, Sean and Dad
Thanks so much for putting on the tour of a lifetime. I've
returned to New Zealand to attempt to convert the masses!
The days were full and the highlights came thick and fast.
Even the apparently small or trivial things
stick in my mind.....like seeing my first North Korean person,
the decayed fun park that we first saw as we crossed the border
into the DPRK, or the kids at the train stations who stood
and waved at us enthusiastically as weheaded into Pyongyang.For cold war enthusiasts the DMZ is
a must see, the dog soup at the Folk Hotel was sensational....compliments
to the chef. Folk dancing in the streets was a massive hit
with the group, and a source of great amusement for the locals.
We did nothing to change the notion that white men can't dance!
Luckily it was only I, as the sole New Zealand representative
on board, who was able to bring a sense of style and sophistication
to the proceedings.The grandeur of the monuments was something
to behold, while the visit to the USS Pueblo , complete with
a video history, and a chance to meet one of the heroes who
captured the imperialists, was a great incentive for me not
to sail my luxury cruise liner into the Sea of Japan (or,
should I say East Sea of Korea.)It has been difficult to describe to
others just what a trip to the DPRK is about. Of course, it
is best for them simply to contact Simon and Nick (they didn't
ask or pay me to say this) and do it themselves. Not only
Simon and Nick been superb, I was very thankful that we had
such an excellent group of travellers. Despite the fact there
were a few poms and Dutchies, it was a bloody great group
of guys. Our North Korean guides and driver were great people
who did their best to make our tour informative and comfortable,
while also satisfying our desire for 'kodak moments!'
Widaehan ryongdoja Kim Jong Il tongi-ui mansumugang-ul samga
Just a quick note to thank you for organising a superb trip
to North Korea last week. I would appreciate it if you would
pass on my thanks to Honey and Mr Lee as well who were excellent
hosts. It was far more powerful in
terms of the impression it made on me than I thought it would
be but also a lot more fun. Whether it is the lack of cars/bicycles/adverts/river
traffic/brands/shops/cafes I don't think I will ever visit
anywhere like it ever again. Other highlights were:- Enjoying
a conversation with Lieutenant
General Kim at the DMZ which required my entire Korean revolutionary
vocabulary ("Down with US Imperialism", "Yankees
go home" and "Korea is one")
- Getting a wave and a smile from a Traffic Lady
- Chollima speed soju drinking
- The line in "Tales of the Forest" from the boyfriend
to the girlfriend "If you really loved me you'd take
this kerosene and dynamite and destroy the
the best Thomas