The Hitchhiker's Guide to North Korea, No. 10: Four reasons to tour the DPRK in February
February in North Korea might be a little frosty, but it's also an excellent time to explore the country at a relatively quiet time of year. If you're already based in China, it's also the perfect opportunity to escape the country at Lunar New Year when everything shuts down.
Here are four reasons to visit North Korea in February:
For Koreans, February means spring, which is what the song above is about. The whole country is alight with the celebration of the Guangmongsong holiday, the birth of the leader Kim Jong Il on the February 16th.
2) Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year is traditional holiday in North Korea as it is in China. In February, you can see Korean women dressed up in their traditional jogori, which consists of a long skirt with beautiful colours and patterns on it. Look out for the colourful strips of cloth, which are called hoejang.
Photo by Austin Andrews.
Jongwoldaeborum falls on the 15th day of the first month by the lunar calendar, which is normally between the 15th and 20th of February in the solar calendar.
Every Jongwoldaeborum, Koreans climb up the nearest hill to admire the first full moon of the year. Many believe that their ancestors will grant their wishes if they are sent up to the moon. The daytime is full of folk games like kite-flying, pinwheel-spinning, bridge-crossing and the like. One popular game is neolttiwigi, a jumping game similar to see-sawing. There is a Korean saying that goes, 'Women will bear a boy if they play neolttiwigi'.
4) Festival delicacies
Spring festivities are full of special snacks, like ogokbap, which is boiled rice mixed with four other staple cereals. Yakbap is glutinous rice mixed with sugar, chestnuts, pine nuts and sesame oil. There are also other dishes made of nine kinds of dried greens. In some regions, people wrap ogokbap in leaves such as cabbage, making a new snack called possum, which are believed to symbolise good fortune.
Koryo Tours is offering four group tours to North Korea in February 2019:
2 February-5 February + Beijing-Pyongyang travel time
From 999 EUR
2-7 February + Beijing-Pyongyang travel time
From 1199 EUR
14-19 February + Beijing-Pyongyang travel time
From 1399 EUR
14-21 February+ Beijing-Pyongyang travel time