If North Korea didn’t already seem like a difficult place to visit, the government there has announced it will place limits on the number of visitors who can enter the country.

Travel News - shutterstockRF_253792525
Pyongyang city skyline.

According to the Chinese Global Times, from 18 March, the number of visitors able to enter North Korea will be capped at 1000 per day. Travel agencies based in China were allegedly notified of the change, which was purportedly made after an influx of visitors following the recent summits held between the leaders of North Korea and the United States.

Though accurate statistics are difficult to procure for North Korea, the state tourism bureau has said that the number of foreign visitors to the country reached its highest ever in July and August last year, with around 1800 visitors arriving each day.

Travel News - Kim Il-sung Square, Pyongyang, North Korea
Kim Il-sung Square is a large city square in the Central District of Pyongyang.

North Korea sees around 10,000 visitors every year, a majority from China. Visitors primarily come to see what is considered by many to be a ‘hermit kingdomruled by the secretive Kim family, who came to power after the Korean peninsula was divided following the Second World War.

Though there is relatively little crime in North Korea and visitors usually have a safe experience, most international governments recommend against travelling here, and there are strict regulations on what travellers can and cannot do during their visits (including not participating in any activity that would be considered disrespectful to the government or ruling family).

In 2016, American university student Otto Warmbier was imprisoned in North Korea after being accused of stealing a propoganda poster from his hotel room. Warmbier was detained in North Korea for 17 months and was later released but died from injuries sustained during his imprisonment.

Subsequently, the US State Department issued restrictions prohibiting the use of a US passport for travel to, in, and through the DPRK, effectively banning Americans from entering North Korea, a ban which remains in place currently. Citizens of South Korea and Malaysia are also prohibited from entering North Korea.

Travel News - MARATHON-NKOREA-TOURISM-PRK
Competitors run through Kim Il Sung square during the annual Pyongyang marathon.

Visitors to North Korea must travel as part of a guided tour, though many travel agencies now offer specialised tours to take in some of the country’s more unusual sights and activities, such as running the Pyongyang Marathon and touring beer breweries.

Explore related stories