North Korea
in January

The Hitchhiker's Guide to North Korea, No.9: Five reasons to tour the DPRK in January

It’s the middle of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and you may already be thinking of your coming winter holiday. North Korea in January may not be an obvious choice, but it is a fascinating time to visit the country despite being the coldest month of the year in Korea. Don’t let the temperature outside deter you ­- one can always put on more clothes; social norms often prevent us from taking them all off.

Here are five reasons to visit North Korea in January:

1) Next Year in Pyongyang

Like every major city in the world, Pyongyang brings in the New Year with a bang. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are holidays for local citizens and there is an annual firework display on the Taedong River. Dress up warm (layers are a must!) and join the locals out on Kim Il Sung Square on the riverside to count down the last moments of the year

Photo by Austin Andrews.

2) The New Year’s Joint Editorial

Interested in what will happen next year in North Korea? Well, the annual New Year’s Joint Editorial is a good place to start. Published in all newspapers across the country on the first day of the year, the Editorial is something of a fixture in North Korean society, setting the stage for the year to come. Originating from the annual New Year’s Address given by President Kim Il Sung, the Editorial is where new policy directions, initiatives are outlined and old ones reinforced (or dropped). The Editorial is studied closely by Koreans, who will spend the next few weeks studying and memorizing the content, as well as foreign observers, researchers, and pundits. Hear the first reactions on-the-ground and see how these match (or not match) interpretations outside of North Korea.

Photo by Austin Andrews.

3) The place to yourself (well, almost)

Ever seen photos of Pyongyang’s abandoned streets? Well, those were likely taken in the middle of winter. There is a reason the streets are deserted: it is really really cold out. If you are into those shots of city streets and monuments devoid of people, then January is for you. Few travellers in the country at this time mean that it can sometimes feel like you have the whole place to yourself, giving you more time to interact with your local guides and the people you meet on tour. Plus the cold outside makes the indoors all the more cozy.

Photo by Austin Andrews.

4) Great photography

Some of the most beautiful photos we’ve seen are from Pyongyang in January. Although the weather is cold, the sky is often clear and the air is crisp, making for some great photography. In January the Taedong river is typically frozen giving stunning views of the frozen city and winter culture: ice skating, ice hockey, and ice fishing – three winter Pyongyang pastimes. Of course, the weather isn't always clear and heavy snow is a real possibility. Just remember the immortal words of Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky, ‘Beauty in cold temperatures is beauty.’

Photo by Austin Andrews.

5) An escape from China

Studying in China? Why not start out your Spring Festival holiday in North Korea? Beat the Chinese crowds and visit North Korea before Spring Festival. We guarantee it will be one of the most memorable experiences of your study abroad. In 2019, our Spring Festival Student Budget Tour will allow you to learn some conversational Korean, have a try at Korean cooking, and get yourself warmed up with some Taekwondo.

Photo by Carl De Keyzer.

Koryo Tours is offering three group tours to North Korea in January 2019:

29 December – 3 January + Beijing-Pyongyang travel time

From 1199 EUR

8-12 January + Beijing-Pyongyang travel time

From 775 EUR

17-22 January + Beijing-Pyongyang travel time

From 999 EUR

We can also arrange private independent tours for small groups and individuals. We recommend applying for these tours by late November or early December.

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