Nothing says fall like Oktoberfest, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, sexy Halloween costumes, and… a visit to North Korea? If you were planning your next family vacation to North Korea (who isn’t?), you may have to choose another destination. Believe it or not, the North Korean government isn’t exactly encouraging of tourism, nor does it have a history of welcoming foreigners with open arms. While the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office and the US government have both issued travel warnings and advisories about traveling to North Korea, the North Korean government has now actually frozen tourist visa applications.
Currently, the only way to visit North Korea for most international travelers is via a tour company. One of those companies, Kyoro Tours, explained that no reason has been given for the visa freeze, but it expects that by “the end of this month the situation will be clear, applications will be unfrozen, and visas will be issued very quickly after that.” The company believes that the freeze may be due to the number of state delegations that will be present in Pyongyang in September for the 70th anniversary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Carl Meadows, North Korea specialist at Regent Holidays, told Lonely Planet that Chinese tourists are the most likely to be affected. “We think that the government may be keen to limit the numbers of visitors to Pyongyang over this holiday period,” he said, “in order to ensure the best possible celebrations experience.”
So while you may not have to totally scrap your fall North Korea excursion, keep in touch with your tour provider to monitor the visa situation. The freeze only applies to in-progress visa applications, so if you’ve already received your visa, you’re in luck.
H/T: Lonely Planet