leaving 2022 and entering 2023 with Koryo Tours
Its been yet another year in which most of our key markets for tourism have been completely closed, so yet another tough one, but there are still some positive stories from 2022 to look back on, and some of our staff are here to share some updates with all our lovely readers - so please check up on us below and see what we enjoyed in 2022 and our hopes for 2023 and beyond!
There's no glossing over the fact that it has been a tough year both personally and workwise for us all, but the feeling now is more optimistic that we are closer to the end that the beginning of this shutdown. The Koryo team has been wonderful, and even though we are all over the place it is this teamwork that has kept me both upbeat and thinking we will come out of this mess smiling! Whilst the tours suffered by still being mostly shutdown, Koryo Studio online sales kept some funds coming in and we had two wonderful projects– the DesignAustria linocut exhibition in Vienna and an absolutely remarkable photographic project which we are still looking to exhibit Shooting Film Stars With Love
Finally, we have established a space to house the Koryo art collection of socialist realism and other DPRK artworks. We plan to open this to the public and for academic research. 'Onwards the Vanguard!' as the Koreans would say - but more like one more year of hard slog and with your support we might be out of this mess and into the next adventures for Koryo Tours & Studio - Happy New Year!
I spent the first half of the year in Beijing, answering emails (often the same one over and over: no, North Korea is not open again for tourism yet!), and keeping things ticking over, all while enjoying becoming a new dad (by far the best thing to happen in 2022, in my humble opinion!). For the rest of the year I have been in the UK and Canada, visiting family, making trips, and, of course, still answering the same email over and over (no, still not open, sorry!). Its been a trying year, on the tail of two other trying years, and it is of course difficult to manage a travel company when the places that you take people to travel are not possible to visit - and as the rest of the world has been opening up it has become harder in many ways as so many travel options now exist, but not our core markets.
Still, we hope that 2023 is a turning point and that we can be back doing what we love and what we do best soon. Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan are open again now and our tours there in 2023 will be happening (want to be on a tour with me? this trip to Kazakhstan is likely to be my next one) - but Turkmenistan and the DPRK remain closed - there are some signs that this may change but we await confirmation and real news and will pass that on as soon as it comes in. Our Russia tours....may resume one day, but that's out of our hands at the moment too. We hope that all situations get resolved peacefully and justly as early as possible.
So we are upbeat, and enthusiastic about taking you along with us to new adventures before too long. A very Happy New Year to everyone who reads this blog and our newsletters, and also to those who don't!
After having my wings clipped by the worldwide pandemic and being unable to travel on a plane for almost as long as I can remember, 2022 brought a glimmer of light.
Admittedly I have been holed up in Mongolia, enjoying personal adventures alone and with my family here, but as the sky once more became streaked with contrails, I itched to be on the move.
In the end, I managed to get to Moscow (before this became not an option) and Istanbul, and lead a couple of tours deep into the Mongolian wilderness; I've been on horseback, camelback, up mountains, across glaciers, mixed it up with eagle hunters, and been stuck in snowy blizzards. But the real highlight for me was travelling to central Asia once more, working as an expedition leader following the Amu Darya river from the Aral sea to its source high in the mountains of one of my favourite countries: Tajikistan.
I was able to get back to meet friends old and new, and even talked my way into the UN water conference in Dushanbe - I filled the empty seat of one of the Slovenian delegates, and I even got to meet with the president of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon (Simon once ate some of his leftover food back in 2008, but that's another story entirely)
I am writing this from a -30 snow-filled Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar, as I plan more adventures and hope to see many of you in the new year.
(If you want to join Rich on his next adventure with us, why not book the Tajikistan Persian New Year Tour? Not only will you catch the fantastic sport of Buzkashi (horseback polo), you'll see local festivities and learn about Tajik history, old and new, and Rich will be able to let you know a lot more about this fascinating country)
Hi everyone! Hope you’re all doing well. I’m back (finally) in east Asia as I have moved to Taiwan to begin PhD studies in southern Taiwan (Tainan) - famous for being Taiwan’s food capital! Of course, I have been studying and not just eating my way through the end of 2022. (Promise...). Another year full of things I never saw coming, I got awarded my second masters (MSc), went viral on TikTok (several times), posted more videos on my YouTube channel, and started a podcast… (whoops, that’s not officially announced yet - watch this space!). My highlight of the year has definitely been getting back to Taiwan and getting all my stuff from Beijing sent over to me after almost three years..! Certainly a trip down memory lane and loads of DPRK memories making me all the more excited to be able to get back and working in North Korea once again.
Let’s hope the new year brings some good news!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone around the globe and I truly hope to be able to see you all soon!
The highlight of 2022 for me was definitely our North Korea From a Near Distance: DMZ and Seoul Tour. After 2 and a half years of forced "retirement" from tour leading, I was once again able to do what I enjoy the most; leading a Koryo Tours group in Korea. In cooperation with NKNews we took our adventurous travelers along the DMZ from Goseong on the East Coast to Yeonpyeong Island on the West Sea. We visited a total of seven observatories overlooking the DPRK, we had special access to Panmunjom/the Joint Security Area, and discovered some of the more touristy sites of Seoul.
I was also able to meet my family and visit Hungary after over 2 years (I spent the pandemic in Beijing and Seoul).
In 2023, I hope that the DPRK will finally reopen its borders for tourism and that I can be a part of restarting Koryo’s North Korea Tours. If and when that happens, I am not only looking forward to leading tours but also to reconnecting with our friends and colleagues in Pyongyang.
May all our followers have a happy 2023 rich in travels including a tour to the DPRK with us.
Stay in touch, and we look forward to continuing to bring more news from North Korea and beyond into 2023 - hopefully more positive news coming soon as well.
Happy New Year from everyone at Koryo Tours to all readers!