North Korea Reopens Its Doors to Russian Tourists Post-Pandemic, Initial Visitors Describe Experience as ‘Surreal’

PAJU, SOUTH KOREA - JULY 19: Tourists look over North Korea at the Unification Observation Platform, near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) on July 19, 2023 in Paju, South Korea. A U.S. soldier who had served in South Korea crossed the military demarcation line separating the two Koreas into North Korea without authorization. The man moved into the North during a tour at the Panmunjom Joint Security Area in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

The initial group of Russian tourists permitted to travel to North Korea amid the pandemic have characterized their journey as ‘surreal.’

Ilya Voskresensky and Elena Bychokva were part of a group of 100 Russians who registered for a recent tour of the country.

The group traveled from Vladivostok to Pyongyang on North Korea’s only airline Air Koryo and had a great time participating in activities such as snowboarding, sightseeing, and music recitals.

It coincides with the growing bond between North Korea and Russia, which has been praised by Vladimir Putin.

“It’s like stepping back in time,” shared Voskresensky, a travel blogger from St Petersburg, in an interview with CNN. 

Brings back memories of the tales my grandparents shared about life in the Soviet Union – the deserted streets, the absence of ads – it feels surreal.

Russian Tourist Documents Meticulously Orchestrated North Korean Scenes

A North Korean flag flying above North Korea’s Gijungdong village, from the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Paju, South Korea, on Friday, March 3, 2023. The US and South Korea plan to hold large-scale military drills in a move set anger Pyongyang, which has promised an unprecedented response to the exercises and threatened to turn the Pacific Ocean into its “firing range.


Voskresensky posted a video of himself snowboarding on deserted slopes and driving on empty roads in the city.

“The detailed preparations for our visit felt like being in a theater production,” Bychoka, a marketing professional, remarked. 

However, within the carefully planned scenes, I couldn’t help but sense that there is a concealed aspect to North Korea.

She presented footage of a meticulously organized children’s music recital, capturing the joyous young performers in flawless synchronization.

North Korea’s offer to Russian tourists demonstrates the growing relationship between the two nations.

During the invasion of Ukraine, Russia has utilized missiles from North Korea. Monday’s news revealed that Putin had given the North Korean leader a Russian-made car for his personal use.

A report confirming the gift did not specify the type of vehicle Putin gave the North Korean dictator or how it was shipped.

Observers noted that the action could potentially breach a UN resolution prohibiting the provision of luxury items to North Korea in order to compel the country to give up its nuclear weapons.

North Korea and Russia have strengthened their collaboration significantly following Kim’s visit to Russia last September for a meeting with Putin.

While visiting Russia’s primary spaceport, Putin presented his personal Anrus Senat limousine to the North Korean leader, who sat in the backseat.

Relations between North Korea and the US have deteriorated significantly following the unsuccessful Hanoi Summit between former president Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in 2019.

Americans have not been allowed to visit North Korea since 2017. During a tightly regulated trip to the country, an American visitor had the opportunity to observe the nation’s perspective on the US.

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