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Topic: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: N178UA
Posted 2012-12-03 07:38:27 and read 27442 times.

The Grand Aviation Tour of North Korea

When the aviation tour of North Korea was announced in the early 2012, I wasn’t moved simply because I have flown on most Soviet Jet types already except IL-18. I always prefer to fly on aircraft that is on commercial service instead of on charter flights. It took me a long while seeing groups after groups have done the North Korea tour to be convinced that is worth to be going. Much to my delight, IL-76 flights were added to the itinerary and a few friends were also booked on my tour in October 2012. I am very curious to see North Korea, the final frontier of socialism and known to be a secretive state. With the growing interest to re-kindle with Soviet plane types and travel to a completely new and isolated country, the trip was born!

Does Air Koryo really deserve the Skytrax one star rating? Are people in the North Korea really brainwashed? So many mysteries behind…..The tour shall reveal one by one here!

I understand there is already an excellent trip report cover all aspect of North Korea by Tis Meyer on the forum from his tour in September.

A Fascinating Aviation Week In North Korea (by CYP353 Oct 28 2012 in Trip Reports)

But I have decided to publish mine to offer a somewhat little different in-sight from my tour in October. I hope one more on North Korea is not too many.

The October 2012 Aviation Tour of North Korea schedule:

19 October 2012 Meet and greet in North Korean Restaurant in Beijing.

20 October 2012 Fly from Beijing to Pyongyang on Air Koryo IL-62. Follow by city walk of Pyongyang.

21 October 2012 Visit DMZ, border with South Korea and Kaesong city.

22 October 2012 Fly from Pyongyang to Orang (Mt Chilbo), visit Kyongsong revolutionary site and back to Pyongyang on Air Koryo IL-18.

23 October 2012 Pyongyang city tour.

24 October 2012 Fly from Pyongyang to Sondok (Hamhung) and back on IL-76 and An-24.

25 October 2012 Fly from Pyongyang to Sondok (Hamhung) on Tu-134. Overnight in Majon Deluxe Hotel on the seaside of Majon.

26 October 2012 Fly from Sondok (Hamhung) to Pyongyang on Tu-134. Pyongyang city tour in afternoon.

27 October 2012 Fly from Pyongyang back to Beijing on Air Koryo Tu-204. (Some tour members chose to fly to Shenyang with Tu-154)

Our Flying Route Map

19 October 2012 - Dinner meet up

As would all other tours to North Korea, 40 members of our group met up in Beijing the night before in a state owned North Korean restaurant with North Korean waitress serving food and drinks plus a fantastic musical and dance show for the night entertainment.

I collected the visa (Tourist Card) to North Korea in the restaurant and meet up with the rest of the group members.

We were welcomed by a very lively musical and vocal performance by North Korean ladies working inside the restaurant. Some say they are also spy, which I don’t know but I know they’re certainly very talented! The show lasted about 30 minutes and like nothing I’ve seen before. The show was excellent, there are too few places doing a show with dinner these days. I left for an early night before tomorrow’s start to Pyongyang.

Video of The Performances, Day 1 and 2 of our tour:


Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: N178UA
Posted 2012-12-03 07:40:33 and read 27622 times.

20 October 2012 - Day 1

Today, we are flying Air Koryo flight JS152 from Beijing to Pyongyang. Operated by their famous IL-62M, Registration P-881. In a rare first time fashion, seat assignment was allocated and reserved, I have the luck to sit in the last row window seat 28F looking over the the Soloviev engines!

The local Beijing aviation enthusiasts told me Air Koryo IL-62 is now a rare sight in Beijing, more often the Tu-204 and Tu-134 came to Beijing than the quad engine IL-62 jet. There was a strong rumour that Air Koryo will not fly the IL-62 on international schedule flight from 2013. We shall see if that’s true.

2 Flights to Pyongyang that day leaving with 30 minutes of each other.

Charles Kennedy, ambassador of Juche Travel Services, stand in front of Air Koryo check-in counter at Terminal 2 of Beijing Capital Airport.

At boarding, you can see the IL-62 through the unobstructed glass. The tour members like a pack of worms, spreading out taking photos like mad, created quite a sight for the other passengers to be held.

The plane was spotless outside. Delivered in 1986, it was quite a young IL-62!

Flight JS152

Beijing to Pyongyang

IL-62M P-885

Flight time 1hr30mins

Travelling Air Koryo means your holiday starts as soon as you get on the plane - the red uniformed Air Koryo hostesses, the in-flight DPRK magazines, the packed lunch and the North Korean history announcement are not to be missed!

A first glimpse into DPRK, welcome onboard by Air Koryo Hostesses.

Most Air Koryo aircraft carries a silver registration plate at the entrance.

Walking past the business class section. Nice embodied pillow with a white seat and head cover.

The middle galley on IL-62.

Exit row in Economy Class.

Flight attendant approach me “No photos please!”. I smiled and obliged for a while. They were actually quite nice, very softly spoken instead of shouting at you like in Russia or Middle East.

Rear view of the cabin after all boarded.

Toilet of IL-62

At 1:05pm sharp, we started our pushback. The 4 engines came into life one after another. It was music to the ears at my seat on the last row! Please see my video for the full sound enjoyment.

The reading light and individual nozzle on IL-62. All well maintained and working.

My other seatmates didn’t seem to be as excited as I do!

On push back and ready to taxi to Runway 36R for takeoff to Pyongyang.

Airborne from Runway 36R. Heading NE direction.

The cabin before in-flight service started shortly. Flight attendants hanged out magazine and newspaper in English and Korean languages include Pyongyang times and Chosun magazine.

The flight attendants did 2 rounds of service, one for food and one for drinks.

A very decent offering for a 1.5 hour flight from Beijing to Pyongyang.

The meal consists of Curry rice, cold chicken schnitzel, cold cuts and fruits. All taste quite good. Air Koryo catering certainly deserve much more than the 1 star rating on Skytrax.

After lunch, I swapped seat with another enthusiast, now I am seating at the last row 28A.

The sunlight spell through the Soloviev Engines. Lovely Sights.

We started descend about 20 minutes before landing into Pyongyang. There were some clouds in the vicinity.

Landed and taxiing into the ramp with the control tower and a temporary terminal building in this picture. Note the original terminal with the famous Kim Il Sung portrait and "Pyongyang" sign was demolished just a few months ago.

Air Koryo were kind enough to allow us a rare visit of the cockpit of IL-62M. It was really well maintained, with bright green panel. It is a 5 men cockpit!

The imposing view of IL-62 when you step out the cabin onto the stairways. With my quick imagination, I fancied myself arriving during the Soviet cold war era!

Me and IL-62 in Pyongyang!

A custom lady at the airport guiding us.

One last look of our plane took us from Beijing.

The IL-62 and some of our tour members’ reflection.

One great hall has immigration, baggage claim and custom together.

Immigration was swift and there is only one baggage carousal. The custom was known to be notorious in DPRK, all luggages have to be X-rayed and some hand searched. Luckily I didn’t encounter any issues. All mobile phones were taken away at the airport and will be given back to you on the last day. Cameras with GPS features are also not allowed to bringing into the country.

A quick look at the arrival board revealed there were 4 planes arrival that day including a Business Jet VP-BRT from Tokyo! The 2nd Air Koryo flight from Beijing is a Tu-204-100.

After arriving, we went straight to some sightseeing and a city walk before to our hotel for dinner.

The Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang, heavily inspired by the one in Paris.

Me and my new book in Pyongyang. Note the front cover features a South Korean Airline, Korean Air  

Trolley bus! A common sight in Communist and Socialist countries.

We walked around the Kim Il Sung square with various Soviet style buildings lit up in the evening.

Crossing the pedestrian tunnel in darkness was quite an experience; only one or two light bulb was lit inside.

After the city-walk, we head straight to our hotel accommodation of the next 7 days and nights, Koryo Hotel.

Standard twin room in Koryo Hotel (4 star). Lovely carpet designs aren’t they! The room and bathroom is well functioned and with strong water pressure. You also get satellite TV like BBC and other international channels. Of course no CNN!

Night view of Pyongyang from our hotel room window.

A very nice 5 courses dinner welcomes our group. Our first meal in the DPRK was well exceeded my imagination. We were fed chicken, fish, pasta, rice and of course Korean Kimchi and pickels!

After dinner, a quick glimpse at the gift shop in our hotel. I suspect this shop is only open to foreigners; it has more sparkling wine/champagne that I could ever imagine!

The exchange rate was about 100 North Korean Won to 1 USD. However to get 1 USD, a North Korean citizen pays much more than the official rate in black market.


Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: N178UA
Posted 2012-12-03 07:44:22 and read 27544 times.

21 October 2012 - Day 2

Good morning Pyongyang.
Today we are visiting the DMZ and the ancient Kaesong city.

The drives to DMZ took more than 2 hours southward from Pyongyang. We have a break in the middle. Here I am photographed with the 2 very nice KITC (Korean International Travel Company) guides, Ms Peng (left) and Ms Hong (Right) along with David from Juche Travel Service.

Selling Stamp book collections and other DPRK style gift at the tea-stop along the way.

Finally, we arrived at the border and saw various re-unification inspired posters. This says “United for the future of our young generations!”

This poster says it all, “Korea is ONE!”

Miss Hong guiding the DMZ to our group.

Sitting on the historic negotiation table between North and South.

More display of the history of the war from North Korea's perspective.

Captured US soldier pictures everywhere!

Captured aircraft part and belongings.

After visiting the display, we headed to the border line. You can see South Korea in the background, only separated by those blue houses.

We are sitting inside the blue houses, with a group of Chinese tourists across the table.

This is North Korea side overlooking to the South.

After the visit to the DMZ, we returned to Kaesong City for lunch and sightseeing. Kaesong City is located few miles from the DMZ.

A peek into normal folks home in Kaesong city, I snap this one out of routine without the supervision of our guides. The people were caught by surprise.

“Shogun” poster in Kaesong city.

Royal lunch at Kaesong Tourist hotel.

All delicate items were served cold. With a hot soup.

Charlie buying a canvas painting from a talented artist at 20 Euro cost.

Visit to Kim Il Sung statue in Kaesong

Views of the ancient city.

We also visited Koryo Museum in Kaesong where we saw some wedding celebration there. The groom usually dress in black western suite and the bride dress in traditional Korean dress.

The Autumn is in its full swing in Kaesong. Beautiful colours.

After a 2 hours long drive back north to Pyongyang city, we pass the “Re-unitfication” monument. This statue is located in the Southern entrance of Pyongyang. 2 Korean lady represent both North and South were joined together here. A very nice statue in my opinion.

In the evening, our group were treated to Moranbong Chicken Restaurant which serves North Korean style KFC fried chicken. (original and BBQ flavoured)

Video of Day 1 and 2:


Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: N178UA
Posted 2012-12-03 07:48:35 and read 27529 times.

22 October 2012 - Day 3

Today, we are back to aviation, flying the much anticipated Ilyushin Il-18 to Orang (Mount Chilbo) and return. It was my first ride on the IL-18, a huge propeller plane with 4 x Ivchenko AI-20M turboprop engines.

We were back to Pyongyang Sunan Airport in the mid morning and found 2 flights on the departures screen that day.

Boarding passes were given with no names. Although there were seat assignments on the boarding passes, it was a generally free seating flight. So the "first in first served" rule applied!

A cold and wet day to fly, typical when especially it is an aviation day!

Sweeping view of Air Koryo fleet parked on the ramp.

View of the distinctive IL-18 engines while climbing onto the stairs. Feeling Nostalgic and travel back in time? Yes!

An Air Koryo hostie greet us personally.

The middle (main) cabin of IL-18 in a 2-3 abreast seating arrangement. The forward cabin has 4 rows was mainly occupied by Air Koryo staff and security personnels.

The rear cabin of IL-18 has also 4 rows of seats.

There are gauges showing the speed and altitude of IL-18 in the rear cabin. Nice to see underneath to monitor it! This is the equivalent to the modern day in-flight airmap display!

Fasten your belts indeed, we are about to takeoff! Please watch my video of Day 3 and 4 for the amazing sound of IL-18!

Take off run was shorter than most expected, airborne within 30 seconds with a nice general climb. Although a low pressure and lot of low clouds were around; the plane was very sturdy flying past the bad weather. No turbulence were encountered!

The in-flight entertainment includes reading the Pyongyang Times (English newspaper, published weekly!) or listen to the Symphony of the drumming sounds of four Ivchenko AI-20M engines turning. Aviation Enthusiasts in heaven!

After the seat belts sign came off, I moved around the cabin to sit at the exit row and observing the ambience onboard.

On our 1 hour flight, the 2 Air Koryo FA came with a round of drinks service include Coffee/Tea/Water/Beer/Cider! All made in North Korea!

Enjoying the North Korea Cider drink with the sounds of IL-18 onboard, a pure pleasure!

The re-modeled bathroom onboard IL-18.

The rest of the flight was non-eventful but very enjoyable by just soaking up the nostalgic ambience of onboard IL-18. After all, it is not your everyday flight! We started descend not long after, with a very smooth landing into Orang Airport. We were allowed to visit the cockpit and look around.

An opportunity to wear the oversized pilot’s hat.

IL-18 cockpit, well maintained considers it was 46+ years old!

The condition was much better than the Somaliland based Daallo Airlines IL-18, told by my friend Ian and Charlie.

Those 4 giant propeller Ivchenko engines.

The weather was about the same as Pyongyang, cold and wet. Luckily the rain stopped allows us to walk around the apron to take as many photos as we could.

Posing in front of the IL-18 freely. How’s that!

Flight crew photo.

A group photo, later on this became a tradition after every flight.

The local airport authority were very accommodative to our request, they re-positioned the stairway truck so you can take a great shot with the mountain scenery behind like the one below!

After leaving the airport, our group went to the terminal building and has a Q & A session with the IL-18 crew.

Naturally the question with "How long can the IL-18 fly until" was asked, the crew responded us the IL-18 has 10 more years of airworthy ahead; this was met with a huge round of applause!

I met up with the captain and he kindly filled my log book with interpretation from radio controller. Typically, Air Koryo captains do not speak English, they relies on the radio controller to interpret. The radio controller speaks almost flawless English!

After the meeting, we were taken to a local tourist hotel in Kyongsong city for lunch. The road was very bumpy with pot holes and took almost an hour from the airport to the hotel. See my video for more sights from the ride.

A seafood lunch. Definitely the best on offer!

Not many dare to eat the crabs, although one seafood lover ate 10 of them on another table!

The waitresses in traditional korean dress.

After the lunch, we re-boarded the bus and went to a revolutionary site where leader Kim Il Sung started the revolution from this seaside fisherman village. It was our first sight of the East Korean sea.

A beautiful site, there were no other tourist apart from our group.

Our buses were best available there.

After the visit, we were back to the airport and were given this colourful boarding pass for our flight back to Pyongyang.

Flight JS5104
Orang to Pyongyang
IL-18D P-835
Flight time 1 hour

Weather seems to be clearing up on our way from Orang flying South to Pyongyang.

The giant prop engines!

This time, we were able to visit the front cabin to take pictures of the front engine views from the window.

Unforgettable views.

I was lucky to be able to sit together with the lovely Ms Peng , one of our tour guide, with our feets up!

Very shortly we landed back to Pyongyang, I didn’t take anymore photo because I was feeling so satisfied and enjoying the moments immensely. Could not really care about another photo or video, it was just a great, great ride!

After getting back in Pyongyang, there was an Air Koryo official meeting with us on the bus. I took the opportunity to present him my latest book but with South Korean flag carrier, Korean Air on the book cover, hope he dosen’t mind and share the true aviation spirit.

We ending the night in a great Kebab restaurant, everyone is smiling! The food was great and plenty to eat there!


Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: N178UA
Posted 2012-12-03 07:51:42 and read 27499 times.

23 October 2012 - Day 4

Good morning Pyongyang! A sunny and clear day awaits us to explore the city today.

Views from my hotel room window.

Recently finished Ryugyong Hotel. The Ryugyong is a 105-story pyramid-shaped skyscraper under construction in Pyongyang, North Korea. Its name ("capital of willows") is also one of the historical names for Pyongyang. Construction began in 1987 but was halted in 1992 as North Korea entered a period of economic crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union.

From Koryo hotel, we are only a block away from the train station so we can see and hear the trains all day and night long. We can see some derelict locomotives from our room.

More square block apartments in Pyongyang.

We drove past the Pyongyang Train station.

Korean people in traditional dress walking on the streets.

With Ms Hong, our tour guide.

Visiting a statue and fountain in the morning.

Old and new building in Pyongyang.

Pyongyang residents walking around.

Our next stop is to visit Mansu Hill Mausoleum. On Mansu Hill there is the bombastic Grand Monument. An enormous bronze statue of Kim Il Sung was erected here in 1972, to honor his 60th birthday. The statue of his son, Kim Jong Il, is now standing next to him since April 2012.

It is customary to show respect by leaving flowers (natural or artificial). Foreign travelers are expected to do this too. You can buy a bouquet which will cost you about € 3-5.

The monument is much visited, mostly by groups of people, groups like school classes, or members of the youth shock brigade, a paramilitary youth organization resembling scouting.

The Famous Chollima Statue (Thousand Mile Horse)

This statue, made in 1961 on the occasion of the 49th birthday of the Great Leader, stands a little bit north of the Grand Monument, at the foot of Moran Hill. On a 46 meters high granite basement is the 14 meters high bronze Pegasus (the winged horse from Greek antiquity), symbolizing the fast socialist development of North Korea.

This is also my favourite monument and symbol of DPRK!

A building with Mount Paktau décor on top. Dear leader Kim Jong Il was born in Mount Paktau, hence it was a special site for North Korea.

Some typical propaganda art display on the streets

Trams on the Boulevards of Pyongyang.

After Mansu Hill, we visited the International Friendship Exhibiton Hall. No photo inside was allowed but it is definitely worth looking at the gifts presented to the dear leaders.

Next, we visited the birth place of Kim Il Sung, Mangyongdae.

Kim Il Sung was born on April 15, 1912, and raised. This 'cradle of revolution' now has become an ideological place of pilgrimage, where schools and other groups of people, including foreign tour groups come. It is located in a very nice and remarkably green park, which attracts visitors.

Our group with a newly married couple stands in front of the birthplace of Kim Il Sung.

A queue of “seems” like workers to visit the site.

After the visit, we went for lunch in “Turtle” restaurant which is on a boat floating on the Taedong River.

Some recently completed apartment on the bank of Taedong River, this becomes a showcase of Pyongyang to the general public.

On the eastern shore of Taedong River, opposite the Kim Il Sung Square, is the 170 meters high Tower of Juche Idea. The white tower itself is 150 meters high. On top of it is the 20 meters high gold-colored torch. The torch is lightened at night and flickers like a real flame. The tower was built in 1982, on occasion of the 70th birthday of Kim Il Sung.

A Salute to the Juche Ideology?

Pyongyang residents playing shooting , look at who they’re aiming at!

In the afternoon, we were taken for an extensive 5 stop ride on the Pyongyang metro.

The most pleasant surprise in all of Pyongyang is undoubtedly the city's phenomenal Traffic Girls. Dolled up in crisp, blue and white uniforms, the immaculately coifed women work the middle of intersections throughout Pyongyang. Every Traffic Girl is beautiful, young, shapely, and sexy in a uniform-wearing sort of way.

The Pyongyang metro is an easy way of transportation within the city. Pyongyang has two underground lines with a total length of 24 km. There are 17 stations, some of them deep under the surface. A visit can certainly be recommended. The stations have been, like the Russian example it seems, exuberantly decorated with reliefs and revolutionary paintings.

The long grim and dark tunnel leading to the metro platform. I was told these moving walkways are one of the longest in the world.

You can select any stations that you want to go to, the guided light will illuminate and show you the direction here!

Beautiful mosaic painting glorifies the nation.

Photo with a train conductor/ticket officer.

Trying to hand out some chocolate when I got a chance to meet with some locals at the metro station.

We were told that this is one of the few occasions when a western tourist is in such close proximity to North Koreans, who are normally isolated from outsiders. For years, rumors have persisted that it’s almost impossible to interact with North Korean locals, and few people have ever done it.

Many of these people may have never seen westerners before. They are told from birth that Americans (or Imperialists) are the source of their woes, and the government discourages locals who are not authorized to greet foreigners. However, it’s easy to bring North Koreans out of this initial apprehension through being a bit enthusiastic and fun. If you are willing to smile and be courteous you will receive a very positive response. It is one of the last places in the world where there are very few visitors and you can have a big impact on whom you meet.

After the metro ride, we saw an over crowded trolley bus on the road.

Another old trolley bus well past its time, but fascinating for our group of spotters to see.

We rounded up our evening in the Karaoke Bar at the Koryo Hotel!

Please see the video (Day 3 and 4) for the Karaoke evening! No words can describe the singing. It was great and hilarious! Not to be missed!

Video from Day 3 and 4 (not to be missed!)


[Edited 2012-12-03 07:52:49]

Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: N178UA
Posted 2012-12-03 07:56:25 and read 27445 times.

24 October 2012 – Day 5

Today is the highlight of the whole tour to me, our group is due to fly the IL-76, a 4 engine cargo transporter to Sondok (Hamhung).

The group will have lunch there and return on either An-24 or IL-76. I am flying the IL-76 both ways. This is also my first time on a cargo plane!

Flight JS5105

Pyongyang to Sondok (Hamhung)

IL-76MD P-912

Flight time 25 minutes

We were issued with another hand written boarding pass at Pyongyang Sunan Airport.

The weather was fair, both An-24 and IL-76 were prepared on the apron for us. There were only 3 persons in the tour group taking An-24 on the outbound. Most of the enthusiasts took IL-76 flight option.

Boarding with my heart rate racing.......

Climbing up to the cargo hold.

A real beast and what a mean looking machine!

Inside the rear compartment.

Some rice and fertilizer pellet were carried as cargo. Not sure the exact purpose is weight balancing or transportation.

With everyone seated, we were about to takeoff.

Marc, does the tyre taste good ?

The engine noise was incredible on the IL-76 like no other plane I have flown before. It is even much noisier than the 4 Soloviev on the IL-62! We sat in the rear compartment where it is considered much noisier than the forward section.

Please see my video on IL-76 takeoff. It was just incredible, the video do much better visual realization of the moment.

View of looking down the whole fuselage from the rear end.

The IL-76MD is powered by four D-30KP turbofan engine. These photo were taken from one of few windows onboard.

Getting comfortable inside the cargo hold, cruising at 5,700m.

Left window view. Not long after, we are descending into Hamhung. The landing was again incredible and caught on video.

The whole flight from takeoff to landing was only 23 minutes, but it rocked everyone’s socks off!

After landing, in the usual fashion, we were allowed to walk around the aircraft and visit flight deck and the famous glass cockpit navigation area.

Kissing an IL-76 !

As usual, the crew are happy to pose for photos!

With Miss Peng, our lovely tour guide.

After 20 minutes, the An-24 has finally arrived. The IL-76 flew way too fast in comparison with the older, slower An-24. This flight carried a total of only 3 passengers, which they have a choice of IL76 or An-24, contrary to popularity, they opted for the An-24. I think they must be extreme prop lovers!

We can take more photos around the AN-24. She was built in 1966. 46+ Years old, being one of the oldest plane in Air Koryo's fleet.

After we went to Hamhung city for lunch in a state hotel. The hotel has a typical grim Soviet style.

There is always plenty of picture of the great leader at the lobby, this time he is overlooking Mount Paktau!

The dining hall with North Korean style wall decors.

A cold lunch includes cold schnitzel and 3 pieces of potato fries, plus other condiment. All cold but with warm rice.

Korean Beer on offer.

After lunch, it is time to go back to Sondok Airport. Both planes were waiting for our group on the apron.

This time, the majority of the group flew back to Pyongyang on An-24, while only 8 or 9 of us stayed on the IL-76 include me. I have flown plenty of An-24 so will give away for the much desired IL-76 jet power!

The terminal at Sondok. It is the standard affair with Kim Il Sung’s portrait at every airport.

Flight JS5106

Sondok to Pyongyang

IL-76MD P-912

Flight time 25 minutes

The return flight is definitely more relaxing and casual even among the tour guides and Air Koryo crew. 8 of us have the whole IL-76 cargo hold to enjoy.

We took off before the An-24, so the group members got a chance to take photo and video footage of our IL-76 roaring past them and onto the runway for takeoff. It was quite a sight from Michael Prophet's video

Here Charlie is reading the Pyongyang Times onboard the IL-76!

I took some rest by laying down on the benches.

Miss Peng did the same thing.

And some friendship posing together, looks like we own the IL-76! A disco inside the IL-76 with the Soloviev Symphony at 6,500m!

Miss Peng who dosen't mind posing for pictures at my request. Beauty onboard the beast!

View from the back. You can see the cargo pellet was offloaded in Sondok, now we are heading back with empty load!

This is the load master station onboard IL-76. The small door on the right lead you to the cockpit and navigation glass area.

Window view. We're on descend very shortly.

Shortly we started the descend to Pyongyang, quite a few of us actually fell onto the floor due to the descend rate/pitch was so steep that you can feel the nose is diving. Never mind, it was a “one of a kind” experience falling to the floor on an IL-76!

Here a picture after I fell onto the floor  

After only 25 minutes of flight, we touched down again in Pyongyang Sunan Airport. I couldn’t see outside during landing so I felt like I was in a flying truck (very loud one) veering left and right. The landing itself was a smooth one.

After waiting the rest of the group for over 20 minutes, we finally saw the An-24 slowly taxi into the apron. A very nice drumming sound from the prop!

I climb onboard the An-24 to take a look, it was 50 Degrees Celsius inside like a sauna, probably the air conditioning was not functioning.

Cabin of An-24 in good condition.

The cockpit of An-24. Famous black cockpit instrument panel. Unlike the IL-62, everything is black here!

Follow the tradition, a group shot taken in front of the An-24.

After the photo, we were taken to the adjacent apron to view the IL-14 and other aircraft parked around her.

This is the engine of IL-18. It seems maintained extremely well.

The IL-14 was preserved and unlikely to fly again, it was a gift from the Soviet Union to Kim Il Sung.

Feeling Nostalgic?

The preserved cockpit of IL-14

The cockpit of the IL-14 follows by radio controls.

Cabin inside the IL-14

A small bathroom located at the back.

The Air Koryo fleet line up at home base, almost all T tails except the Tu204. Note the Cubana IL-62 was a gift from Cuba, now she is used as spare parts only. She wear the registration P-886P.

After the airport tour, we head to the tower of Juche.

The Juche Tower (officially the Tower of the Juche Idea) is a monument in Pyongyang, North Korea. The tower is named after the principle of Juche, developed by Kim Il Sung as a blend of autarky, self-reliance, nationalism, Korean traditionalism, and Marxism-Leninism.

An elevator brings you to the top and from there you have a nice 360 degrees view of Pyongyang. It cost 5 Euros for the visit.

View of Kim Il Sung Square.

At the bottom is a wall with signs of all kind of organizations and 'Kim Il Sung Study-groups' from many countries that support the concept of Juche.

We ended a very nice day at the BBQ Duck Restaurant; I was told Korean people love eating duck. Some brave members also tried their hot and spicy “Dog” soup!

Video from Day 5. Do not miss the sound of IL-76!


Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: N178UA
Posted 2012-12-03 08:01:22 and read 27364 times.

25 October 2012 – Day 6

Today, we are flying to Sondok (Hamhung) again but onboard the sleek looking Tu-134. We will be staying at Majon (a seaside town near Hamhung) and return with the flight on the next day.

The FIDS display at the airport.


Pyongyang - Sondok

Tu-134-B3 P-814

Flight time 25 minutes

The Air Koryo Tu-134 is a B3 version. Means no glass nose.

View from the last row, 19. You can hear the sounds of Tu-134 from the video here.

Flight attendant sits at the exit row with passenger during takeoff and landing.

Charles enjoyed reading of Aviation News Magazine onboard Tu-134.

After a very smooth landing again in Sondok, we were allowed to visit the cockpit one by one. Follow by the usual group photos with the operating crew members.

Notice the elevation of the captain and first officer seat from the engineer seat inside the small cockpit.

Rear passenger cabin of Tu-134. Very cosy feel.

We were able to walk around and snap photos of the Tu-134 from all angles.

Indeed, it was a great looking aircraft!

I found myself with the captain and have him signed my log book.

After the airport, we are on our way to see one more site before heading to the sea side town of Majon for lunch and a relaxing afternoon.

We saw some interesting sights along the way. “Men at work” came to my mind!

The lady guide is showing us some historic site that I forgot the name of the place.

Hugging this tree is to be considered lucky! We were told that this tree survived for a very long time even during the war.

Marc, you have really long tongues!

With another 30 minutes drive, we finally arrived at the Majon Deluxe Hotel. This hotel is an upgrade from the standard hotel, cost an extra of 90 Euro per person per night. The other group members who didn’t opt in for the upgrade are staying in a standard hotel 10 minutes away. In my opinion, the upgrade is well worth it. You get to sample unparallel luxury in a country like North Korea!

It was immaculate and clean, rival to Western 5 star standard.

I don’t think any average North Korean citizen can afford to stay here.

Rooms are airy, clean and spacious.

Funny that everything in the room has Sheraton label. However there was a mis-spelling of “Shoe Sine Mitt” on it leading us to believe it was a fake Sheraton.

We were treated to this deluxe six course lunch afterwards.

Seafood Gratin.

Pork Schnitzel

After lunch, some brave members went for a swim in the cold East Korean Sea. It was freezingly cold so I didn’t dare to try.

The hotel is right on the deserted beach. Would make a great place in the Summer!

After the beach, I chose to go to the indoor Sauna and Pool. The entrance ticket cost about 10 USD. The Sauna and Steam room was great! The water in the jacuzzi was cold though!

Further exploring the 5 star Majon Deluxe Hotel revealed they have a 2 lane bowling alley!

So the game was on!

Please see the video for some amazing bowling action!

I was winning all the way according to the score board. (top left)

We had a great relaxing afternoon and evening inside the hotel. During the dinner, we have discussed about our feeling towards the DPRK and whether it is moral to visit DPRK, what was the best and worst moment of the trip. Many answered “IL62 or IL76”!


Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: N178UA
Posted 2012-12-03 08:03:24 and read 27358 times.

26 October 2012 – Day 7

The next morning we met up with the rest of the group who stayed at the standard hotel and a quick visit to the Fertilizer factory in Hamhung city was planned.

Hamhung is an important chemical industry center in the DPRK. It is an industrial city which serves as a major port for North Korean foreign trade. Production includes textiles, metalware, machinery, refined oil and processed food.

First sight of heavy industrial side of North Korea with Slogan and Propaganda everywhere! In addition, there was a large smell of Ammonium in the air that really wakes you up instantly in the morning!

This man, stand in the middle is the chief of the factory.

The factory equipments are the oldest I’ve seen. I presume they’re made in the 50/60s with the help of USSR/China.

After the interesting factory visit, we were on the bus back to Sondok Airport. We’ve got to see more country side life like Ox Cart, farmers using primitive tools farming around. Literally no cars was around, people are walking or riding bicycles. Very much looks like 40 years ago in China!

We went straight to board the Tu-134 which awaits for us.

Flight: JS5106

Sondok (Hamhung) to Pyongyang

Tu-134-B3, P-814

Flight time: 35 minutes include a go around!

Can it get better than this? Standing in front and about to board to fly a Tu-134 in late 2012!

Everyone’s hand searched without X-ray at the airport.

Felix, chose to stay inside the cargo hold of Tu-134 the entire way from Sondok back to Pyongyang! The tour guide tried to do the head count with 1 missing, but I told him, “he was inside the toilet” so he was spared and left inside the cargo hold the whole way!

The bathroom with a ceiling window, a unique feature on the Tu-134.

Engine started, I got a reward by sitting at the last row window seat 19D.

The view from my window and my seat.

Enjoy the onboard atmosphere!

From the back to the front. Our Tu-134 was separated in 3 cabins.

We were surprised by the early geared down. The Tu-134 continued approach till about 500 feet then suddenly a surge of power on the Soloviev D-30 engines and we went climbing again! It is a Go-Around! Who would have thought this happens even in Pyongyang when there are only a few movements a day! The jet did a left bank and then a few more turns and landed safely after 15 minutes. The go around was welcomed by the group and added 15 more minutes of flying time.

Later on, some other group members confirmed the jet did not line up to the runway perfectly on the first attempt so it aborted the approach and did a go around! This may attributed to the fact it was a training flight. The second landing was so smooth that the pilots did more than enough to makeup for the shortfall on the first approach.

The cabin after landing, the row of chair collapsed like a domino when one pushed on the last chair.

After deplane, we can see all Air Koryo planes at the airport including a Tu-154B and IL-18F in storage. (P-551 and P-836)

Another surprise from Air Koryo and the organizer, we were given a ramp tour with the IL-62 and Tu-154 towed out from the base and parked in a great angle for photographs. What an awesome presentation and they seems truly know what we want!

Me and the IL-62!

You can walk around under the wing of IL-62! Who would dare of thought that a ramp tour in North Korea!!??

Tu-154B2, P-561 on the ramp.

Our last group shot together, standing in front of the IL-62! Weather couldn't be better!

After the fantastic ramp tour, we boarded the bus and head back to Pyongyang city for lunch. This time we tried the Pyongyang Cold Noodles!

We love the Korean Sausages!

We have another day of packed schedule till evening in Pyongyang ahead, first stop is the Party Monument and we were also able to walk around. We observed some more sights of Pyongyang traffic ladies and some buses/trams along the way.

The Monument for the party founding is located across the Taedong river in the direct line of sight of the statue of President Kim Il Sung on Mansu Hill. The monument was erected for the 50 year jubilee of the Korean Workers Party founding in October 1995. The tower measures 50 meters in height and its three components are a hammer, sickle and writing brush which represent the worker, the peasant and the intellectual.

After that, we visited the USS Pueblo, where it is celebrated as one of the county's most popular tourist attractions. Guided tours are offered which describe the DPRK version of the events. Politically it is an interesting excursion.

We were given a DVD presentation of the historic event of the capture of Pueblo from the North Korean stand point of view.

A North Korean website summarizes the story as follows:

"In January Juche 57 (1968) the navy of the Korean People’s Army captured the US imperialist armed spy ship Pueblo in the very act of espionage in the territorial waters of Korea. Like a thief raising a hue and cry, the US imperialists raved about “reprisals,” and ordered out many war vessels including a nuclear aircraft carrier and aircraft, bringing the situation to the brink of war.

Kim Il Sung denounced the US moves as a shameless aggressive act that would threaten peace and security of the DPRK and its people, and clarified the principled stand that the Korean people would retaliate for “retaliation” and return all-out war for all-out war.

Alarmed by Kim Il Sung’s resolute stand and the unyielding fighting will and indestructible strength of the Korean people who were rallied closely around their leader Kim Il Sung, the US imperialists signed a letter of apology, recognizing their aggressive act in the eyes of the world and guaranteeing that no US warship would intrude into the territorial waters of the DPRK again."

The survelliance room of the ship.

Copy of the letter of apology from US Government. But later, the US retracts the apology after the release of hostages!

A captured “Tornado” is also on display next to USS Pueblo.

After visiting Pueblo, I photographed some of the daily life around the shores of the river.

Our last stop is visiting the Gymnastic Hall (Circus) where a great show was offered. We sat among other privileged citizens of North Korea in a great theater.

Unfortunately we cannot take photo or video inside. But I snapped one or two. The show was about love story between a young man and a lady in ancient Korean time. The gymnastic show was fabulous, just as good as the Cirque du Soleil!

Some of the guys also went to the tailor shop and Clive, seen here with his suit made in DPRK!

After the theater and tailor shop visit, we went for our final dinner in North Korea, in a restaurant called Paradise! It was a great night and we finished the night with a 40 questions of Aviation Quiz ran by Charlie.

One last group farewell photo at the hotel before our group separates; about 10 people will fly to Shenyang by Tu-154 and majority return to Beijing by Tu-204 tomorrow.

We have a great night in the Karaoke Bar till 3am!


Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: N178UA
Posted 2012-12-03 08:06:35 and read 27335 times.

27 October 2012 – Day 8 (Last Day)

This is our last day in North Korea, we were given our passport back the night before. We have a very early departure of 7am from the hotel for the airport. The group going to Shenyang starts later because of late departure time.

The FIDS revealed that double departure to both Beijing and Shenyang is planned today. Apart from our Tu-204-100B (P-633) flight, the other flight to Beijing is operated by Tu-134! (P-814) The flight to Shenyang are operated by Tu-154B (P-552) and Tu-204-300 (P-632)

After checking in our luggage, we were finally given our mobile phones back at the departure lounge. We say farewell to our excellent guides from Korean International Travel Company (KITC) and straight head out to the tarmac for boarding our flight.

It was a cold and rainy morning, same goes with my feelings, I miss North Korea and the fun we have on the trip.

The Tu-204-100B is powered by PS90 Perm Motors.

Walking past the Business Class section.

This is the economy section, what a contras to the classic types operated by Air Koryo! I do feel like travelling back to the future!

The takeoff was non-eventful apart from the silence I’ve observed.

After takeoff, the in-flight meal started which consist of the famous “Air Koryo Burger”. This is quite a sharp contrast compared to the full meal from Beijing to Pyongyang one week earlier.

Quite a tasty burger, I think the meat was chicken!

After the in-flight service, I walked around the cabin and took this photo of what Business Class looks like in-flight. Passengers were served in a tray with fine dining China and table cloth.

Economy Class onboard Tu-204-100B. Notice the LCD drop down screen rivals the western A320 or B737 type. It was showing a North Korean Kung Fu type of movie.

Shortly we started our descend; the clear sky gave away for the smog in greater Beijing basin. I moved seat to exit row in forward economy and had a great conversation with a Canadian mother lived in Pyongyang for 2 years and her husband works for NGO in the country.

The touch down was the smoothest I’ve experienced on a 2 engine airplane! It led me to believe in Air Koryo and their flying capability despite the challenges. We landed on runway 01 and taxied to the gate within 5 minutes with no traffic holding us around. Here is a photo when we taxi past a China Southern A380 Super. I got a sense of “back to the normality” because for a whole week we’ve only seen Russian made airplane inside North Korea(which is great!)

After arrival, David for Juche Travel Service kindly arranged cockpit visit for the enthusiasts. Kudos to Air Koryo pilot who are patient and understood of what we want.

A last photo of our plane, P-633 in hazy weather of Beijing.

Don’t miss the video from Day 6,7 and 8 including the Tu-134 go around!

This concludes the great successful Grand Aviation Tour to North Korea in October 2012.

Thoughts about North Korea – Final Words.

Travel broadens the mind and none more so than in North Korea. My feeling about my visit is in no way an endorsement of the country’s autocratic regime, but rather an enlightening, one-of-a-kind experience that can lead to greater understanding. Aviation was the key motivation for me to go but during the tour, I have gained an immense attachment to the DPRK and its people.

The North Koreans were warm and friendly to me. The DPRK does not appear on any lists of countries where it is dangerous to visit and is probably one of the safest countries in the world you can visit. We are always welcomed by the Korean people and are seen as guests in their country. Certainly, if you are willing to smile and be courteous you will receive a very positive response. It is one of the last places in the world where there are very few visitors and you can have a big impact on whom you meet.

There are many restrictions on the movements of foreign visitors to DPRK. You basically have to be accompanied wherever you go. Contact with local people is difficult for several reasons; the main reason is the language barrier (foreign languages are not widely spoken in DPRK) and other reasons are that the people are generally very wary of foreigners and also are very shy (and careful with drawing attention to themselves). There are many restrictions on photography that have to be obeyed in DPRK; however you can take pictures of most things at designated tourist sites. When unsure, seek advice from the tour guide. Photo on aviation subject seems to be OK and welcomed, as seen on my trip report.

Today, I have a strong feeling that the country desperately wants tourism, and it is inevitable that tourism brings Western influence. For them, economic reform is more important than the consequences of imperialist influence. They have placed a huge amount of their struggling GDP in recent years investing into their own tourist infrastructure.

Lastly, I would say it’s irresponsible to go to North Korea just to chortle at their Kim-cult and point and laugh at the strange customs of North Koreans. Unfortunately, I feel some people go to the country with this mind-set. Those that do find the country is off-limits and very unpleasant. With an open mind, it goes a very long way in all the travels.

I would highly recommend North Korea to anyone, both aviation enthusiasts and non-aviation enthusiasts. It is a one of a kind experience combines with aviation travels and sightseeing of a completely different country nothing alike. I would like to thank you David of Juche Travel Service for the organization of the tour and thanks our KITC guides. I would also like to thank all of my travel accompanies on the tour, you guys made the tour even more enjoyable with more tales to tell!

See you in Pyongyang in 2013!

Sam Chui

Below are some of the souvenirs that I bought while in North Korea, include an Air Koryo Goodie bag (brand new safety cards and stamp poster)

Thanks for reading and your comments/feedback are always welcome.

Sam Chui

You can see more of my photos and reports on
Youtube: Sam Chui

Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: BWI757
Posted 2012-12-03 08:24:59 and read 27258 times.

First! Read this as you posted section by section!

As always, fantastic reading!

Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: baldwin471
Posted 2012-12-03 09:22:23 and read 26968 times.

Fantastic TR! Very insightful. Those traffic ladies sure are pretty!

Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: globalflyer
Posted 2012-12-03 10:15:56 and read 26796 times.

As always brilliant! All of the DPKR TR's have been all unique and a joy to read. This was as well! Cheers, Will

Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: 817Dreamliiner
Posted 2012-12-03 14:04:33 and read 26148 times.

Wow amazing Report!

Always love reading the north korean reports. Yours is pretty amazing, well done! Great pics, btw was that a north korean girl with a cell phone I saw or am I mistaken? Interesting that they take cell phones from you at the airport, not sure if ill be able to do without it for that long. Thanks for sharing your report! 

Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: 9V-SPJ
Posted 2012-12-03 18:17:27 and read 25753 times.

Great stuff, Sam! North Korea seems to be a fascinating country! How difficult is it for US citizens to get permissions to go on trips like yours?


Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: 767747
Posted 2012-12-03 20:11:42 and read 25574 times.

Amazing report, Sam! What a great report on a fascinating country. Great to see views of the capital city, and your daily experiences and excursions.

Thanks for sharing!

Matthew (767747)

Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: concordechild
Posted 2012-12-04 07:47:30 and read 24797 times.

as always, Sam, a fantastic report!!! Have thought of this tour many times but never pulled the trigger on it.... you may just have pushed me....

Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: modesto2
Posted 2012-12-04 10:16:27 and read 24608 times.

These tours look amazing. I really need to join one. Awesome report and great pics!

Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: The777Man
Posted 2012-12-04 12:58:06 and read 24482 times.

Hi Sam!

Thanks for an amazing report of the North Korea tour!

Looks like you had lots of fun and very nice to see that the North Koreans go to such lengths for you guys to have a great tour, like pulling aircraft so you can get a better picture.

Looking forward to your next report!


Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: Skyguy
Posted 2012-12-04 15:13:58 and read 24371 times.

Outstanding report Mr. Chui! Reading this exceptional TR feel like I was there with you touring and flying around DPRK.

I appreciate your comments at the end of your TR travel certainly broadens the mind through the sights we see, people we meet and things we experience. However, we only wish it was also the same on the other side for ordinary North Koreans and that they too have the freedom to interact with tourists and foreigners, it would also broaden their outlook and understanding of the the outside world. Hope Miss Peng was enlightening and gave you insight into life in DPRK and not just the 'official' story. (She looks cute by the way!)

[Edited 2012-12-04 15:47:20]

Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: XFSUgimpLB41X
Posted 2012-12-04 23:24:38 and read 24054 times.

Absolutely fantastic report! I've got to say, it's got me thinking about trying that tour out!

Out of curiosity, how much did it cost?

Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: N178UA
Posted 2012-12-05 20:09:00 and read 23513 times.

Hi All

Thanks again for reading this long TR and the kind comments.

Quoting 9V-SPJ (Reply 13):
How difficult is it for US citizens to get permissions to go on trips like yours?

Not difficult at all. You simply have to go on a tour, apply through Juche Travel Service or Koryo Tours etc, they will arrange everything. American is allowed to go to DPRK. We have a few Americans on my tour.

Quoting concordechild (Reply 15):
Have thought of this tour many times but never pulled the trigger on it.... you may just have pushed me....

Yes I hope so!

Quoting Skyguy (Reply 18):
Hope Miss Peng was enlightening and gave you insight into life in DPRK and not just the 'official' story. (She looks cute by the way!)

You will find most of the tour guide are the few who are privileged that take their official stand to deal with foreigners. I do think DPRK is opening up a little, but still a very long way to go and the only way to find out is to go back there after a while and see how things changed.

Quoting XFSUgimpLB41X (Reply 19):
Out of curiosity, how much did it cost?

There will be 4 tours next year, Each cost 1,995 Euro include all flights, accomodation, food and sightseeing. A bargain consider you get to fly IL-18, Tu-154, Tu-134, An-24, IL76 (Eur 250 optional) and possibly IL-62 as well. You will have to pay much more before in Russia to do it all by yourself. The group tour is great fun!

See you all in Pyongyang 2013!


Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: flightsimboy
Posted 2012-12-05 20:47:18 and read 23489 times.

Sam this definitely left me speechless!! What an amazing report. I had read a similar report on a blogspot by a FA so I had seen some of the pics before, and an excellent write up by her as well (see Oct 2012). However nice to see this in the Sam Chui format!! And that group, what an amazing number of you. Any other a.netters on there?

[Edited 2012-12-05 21:18:59]

Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: SIN7
Posted 2012-12-05 23:18:56 and read 23411 times.

Another spectacular TR and pics from the Sam.
The awesome pics and videos made me feel like I was back in North Korea
I went to North Korea back in 2008 and wrote a TR on it. But it's no way near Sam's quality.
Yep, go with an open mind, and you'll enjoy your stay.
Thanks Sam for the TR.

Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: MSS658
Posted 2012-12-07 02:02:51 and read 22906 times.

Hello Sam

Another great report, thanks for putting it up for us! Great to see such a detailed story about North Korea.


Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: N178UA
Posted 2012-12-10 21:59:42 and read 22056 times.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 21):
Any other a.netters on there?

Hi Flightsimboy, very kind of you as always. Only 1 or 2 regular Anetters (from forum) are on the trip out of 40 of us, although many do read or browse Anet to an extent.

Quoting SIN7 (Reply 22):
Yep, go with an open mind, and you'll enjoy your stay.

Thank you. I have a feeling the attitude towards pictures taking has been eased up a lot since 2008, so nowadays you do get more snapping opportunities.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 23):

Another great report, thanks for putting it up for us! Great to see such a detailed story about North Korea.

Thanks Marc. Good to see you enjoy my TR as always!


Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: ZS-SAZ
Posted 2012-12-12 13:18:28 and read 21462 times.

What a fantastic trip report! I enjoyed reading every bit of it, and did not want it to end. I also thought your photos were fantastic - not just of the aircraft, but of the people too.

I also appreciated your views on North Korea, and found that I learned far more about the country than any other source I've consulted about the country.

I'm determined now to go on this tour - thanks for the link to the travel agent.

Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: MHTripple7
Posted 2012-12-13 09:26:26 and read 21106 times.

Ugh reading this trip report makes me feel so torn. Your pics and experiences look absolutely incredible! Everything looks like so much fun, and a very rare opportunity for sure. I know they only show you guys the "nice parts" of the country, but it still looke nicer than I would have expected.

I would honestly really like to visit, but morally I just don't know if I can knowingly put money into and support a regime that is just so blatantly evil! I usually try to look past politics when visiting other countries, but the DPRK might be crossing the line for me.

Tough decision for sure.

Awesome report as well, loved every bit of it.

Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: N178UA
Posted 2012-12-13 22:13:23 and read 20913 times.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 26):
I would honestly really like to visit, but morally I just don't know if I can knowingly put money into and support a regime that is just so blatantly evil! I usually try to look past politics when visiting other countries, but the DPRK might be crossing the line for me.

You've raised some really good points. We have debates on the morality issues many times during the tour.

There are two reasons NOT to visit North Korea. The first is that you are supplying revenue to the DPRK. The same government that suppress its own people. The second reason is because reports suggest North Koreans normal folks can be in danger when interact with foreigners.

I personally feel supplying the DPRK with revenue is worth the opportunity to help expose the reclusive country to the world beyond their shores. DPRK is pretty much a closed country, without your visit, the people will never find out what it is like outside of their own belief of "best country". It is an eye-opener to us and to them as well.
This is also an important step that will lead to the subsequent generation of North Koreans assuming power perhaps reforming their country.

Yes, very tough decision, and it's your judgement call.

On the aviation side, it is all PLUSES.   No where you get to ride IL-62, IL-76, IL-18, Tu-134, Tu-154, Tu-204 in one go!


Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: 777ord
Posted 2012-12-15 16:42:19 and read 20301 times.

WOW. Incredible TR and experience! How did you discover this opportunity?! When is the next one!!!

Can anyone tell me if old US MIlitary stamps are an issue?

Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: Windowseater
Posted 2012-12-15 21:34:50 and read 20139 times.

Thank you for posting such a comprehensive and colorful TR on such a rare experience - I loved how it was so aircraft-centric as well, made me drool and dream of travelling on those old Soviet aircraft types.

I was surprised you were able to take such clear pictures of the restaurant in Beijing - I had the opportunity to go to a DPRK-run restaurant in Beijing last month, but there were signs everywhere prohibiting photography. I anyway managed to sneak a few in, but not to the quality that you have in your TR.

I'm seriously considering signing up for one of their 2013 your dates.

Just out of curiosity, was you group just guys mainly, or did you have couples as well?


Topic: RE: The Grand Aviation Tour Of North Korea Oct 2012
Username: N178UA
Posted 2012-12-17 21:08:32 and read 19608 times.

Quoting 777ord (Reply 28):
How did you discover this opportunity?! When is the next one!!!

Can anyone tell me if old US MIlitary stamps are an issue?

You can contact the tour agent, link is embedded in my conclusion of the trip report.

Quoting Windowseater (Reply 29):

Just out of curiosity, was you group just guys mainly, or did you have couples as well?

yes, mainly guys of course when it comes to Aviation. However previous tours did have few females as well.


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