From March 22 through March 27, 2008, I was inside the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on a special personal tour.
While I have long held an interest in seeing more of Asia, my interest in the Korean peninsula increased as a result of business travel to Seoul. During one trip in early 2006, I ended up with an extra day and decide to see some more of the country than just downtown Seoul, the hotel room and the airport. I booked a day trip to the
It was a fascinating experience, both from a historical aspect and also to hear the stories from the Korean tour guides. They talked about the history of the peninsula and how families were separated when the 38th Parallel was drawn. As I stood on the south side of the Military Demarcation Line and gazed into the DPRK, I vowed to myself to one day stand on the other side and look into South Korea. It would take another two years to fulfill that promise.
Individual travel is almost impossible within the DPRK. I found a Beijing-based tour company, Koryo Tours, who clearly had the best reputation and experience for this unique destination. They offer a variety of tours from late winter until early autumn, departing and returning through Beijing. They also took care of the necessary visa applications.
Most people thought I was crazy. In fact, I didn't even tell my parents about the trip until after I returned home (other family members were aware of my plans). But at almost no time at all did I ever feel any danger or threats during the time I was inside the country.
To read my daily diary from the trip, select from the dates listed below.