On visiting or living in South Korea before travel to North Korea.
FAQ // If I have a South Korean stamp or visa in my passport, can I visit North Korea?
Yes, you can!
Having a South Korean stamp or visa in your passport is not an issue or problem for visiting the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ('DPRK' or 'North Korea'). The relevant North Korean authorities and travel companies do not care if you have visited South Korea before. A great many of travellers with Koryo Tours have visited, lived in, and/or worked in South Korea before visiting North Korea.
Many travellers choose to see both North and South Korea on the same trip, which can be done by transiting through China or Russia. Direct civilian travel between North and South Korea is currently not possible at the time of writing. An improvement of inter-Korean relations could potentially open routes from South Korea to Kaesong and/or Mt. Kumgang in North Korea. For now, transit via Beijing is by far the most common route of reaching Pyongyang.
There are, however, a number of things you should be aware of if you plan to visit both North and South Korea on the same trip:
*Information or media about North Korea (news, history, books, photographs, etc.) or in the Korean language, including those produced in North Korea, are prohibited from being taken into North Korea.
*South Korean products displaying product information in Korean are prohibited from being taken into North Korea. For example, South Korean foods or household items with South Korean packaging should would be prohibited. in contrast, A Samsung (South Korean produced) phone for personal use would be fine to bring with you on a trip as it does not openly display information in Korean.
*North Korean printed and electronic media is prohibited from being taken into South Korea by South Korea's National Security Act. While most souvenirs (handcrafts, household items, non-political art, etc.) are generally fine to bring to South Korea, items or information deemed to be of a political nature (most, but not all, media in North Korea is in some way political) are generally prohibited from entering North Korea. Please note that interpretation and application of the National Security Act may at the discretion of South Korean authorities.
*Generic photos from South Korea are generally fine to have on your personal camera or memory devices while traveling in North Korea, but should not be purposely shown or distributed during your travels in North Korea. If North Korean customs comes across generic photos of South Korea, it is not a problem (the customs agent will typically stop looking at the photos at this point). Purposely showing or distributing images of South Korea may cause issues for both yourself and locals who see the photos.
*It is fine to carry South Korean currency (won) on your person to North Korea. South Korean currency cannot be used, distributed, or exchanged in North Korea. North Korean currency (also the won) can only be used by foreigners at designated locations and officially cannot be taken out of the country.
*South Korean music should not be taken into North Korea and is illegal to broadcast in public.
Updated 23 April 2018.