YPT is proud to announce the first ever Korean language course tour available to tourists in North Hamgyong Province. This tour is designed for both those looking to gain an absolute basic introduction to Korean and those already possessing Korean language proficiency and interested in learning more about the specifics of the North Korean dialect. To make this tour even more exciting, we’ll be getting out of Pyongyang and heading to the rural north east of the DPRK, way off the usual tourist trail and a part of the country with a distinctive North Korean dialect. Spaced over four classes, primarily located at the School of Foreign Languages in Chongjin, the third largest city in the DPRK. We’ve designed this itinerary to provide you with as many local interactions as possible to practice your language in a real world environment for one of our most unique tours and insights into North Korean culture and it’s people.
Our journey first starts in Beijing where we’ll board our overnight sleeper train to Tumen, a border town of China that lays directly across the Tumen River from the DPRK, only a stones throw away. Once arriving we’ll have time to explore this curious border town and spend the evening at local hotel.
The following morning we’ll go through Chinese immigration and become one of the very few western tourists to walk across a bridge into North Korea. Here we’ll be met by our friendly local Korean guides and head directly to Wangjaesan Grand Monument, one of the most impressive in the country and a must see for any fan of grand socialist monuments.
We’ll then make our way to Hoeryong city, a beautiful city famous in the DPRK for “pretty girls, apricots and the hometown of Kim Jong Suk (Kim Jong Il’s Mother).”
Next on our agenda will be the infamous industrial city and third largest’s city in the DPRK: Chongjin. We’ll head to the Foreign Language School where our first intensive, introductory Korean language lesson will take place. After class we will head to Kim Ki Song Middle School to join a class of Korean students to practice our new Korean phrases and teach some new English skills too. We’ll be able to visit a local kindergarten where the workers of the Kim Chaek steelworks factory send their children to study and explore the recently renovated central square and the revolutionary museum that holds history on the battle for liberation against the Japanese during WWII. Following our second class we’ll head to lunch at the Chongjin Seamen’s Club for more mingling with locals in the front bar and a friendly game of billiards.
Our next destination is Mt Chilbo, famous for it’s incredible nature of both land and sea. Here we’ll indulge in the only home-stay available in the country and Korean class in the homestay village with a local teacher. This is a one of a kind experience which will lead us to spending our day and night eating, drinking, playing sports and exchanging photos with our Korean home-stay family. After dinner we’ll head to the beach for some roasting of marshmallows and campfire chats. We’ll also take advantage of the mountains here and go for gentle hikes along the peak for spectacular views. After saying goodbye to our Korean families we’ll make our way to Rason.
Rason is located in the far North East of North Korea, borders Russia and China and is the Special Economic Zone of North Korea. Definitely the less visited area of the DPRK and perhaps its status as an SEZ tends to make people question how representative of the DPRK it is. Whatever the reason may be, it’s become a true hidden gem of the DPRK. With very few visitors and a relaxed atmosphere, Rason is one of our favourite places to go. The only place in North Korea where you can visit a market as a tourist as well the only place where you can exchange hard currency for DPRKorean Won at the bank (and at real rates too!). What’s more you can actually spend it in local shops and the market! You can also get a DPRK debit card, chat with students at the Foreign Language School, visit factories, drink at local watering holes and more! By this stage we’ll be communicating at these sites with our newly acquired Korean language skills for a truly local experience. This is the perfect trip for returners, or for people who want to see the DPRK and experience a truly local experience.
Meet your YPT guide at 10:00am at the Beijing Zhong Gu Hotel near Beijing Railway Station found here. During this meeting, we’ll go through the tour’s itinerary, receive DPRK visas and tickets, as well as a great chance to meet your fellow travellers and to discuss any other questions you may have about the DPRK.
Take the overnight sleeper train at 1:20pm for Tumen City.
During the journey your YPT guide will be happy to answer any DPRK based questions you might have and use his Chinese ability to keep you stocked up with beer and food for the journey
Wednesday 11th July
Arrival in Tumen at 3:30pm
Check into hotel situated within walking distance of the border
Chance to hangout by the river to have dinner and look over the border in the DPRK, this is also a great place to buy local souvenirs
Overnight in Tumen
Thursday 12th July
Up early to drive to the border to go through some very relaxed but also extremely curious Chinese customs.
Walk the bridge into the DPRK to meet your local guides and some friendly but amazingly thorough DPRK customs officials. This is one of only two entry points where you can receive the DPRK stamp in your passport.
Drive to Wangjaesan Grand Monument – one of the most spectacular monuments in the DPRK.
Lunch at the Wangjaesan Guesthouse
Drive to Hoeryong city (2 hours)- Population 140,000, This city is famous in the DPRK for it’s ‘white apricots, ceramics and beautiful girls.” It’s also the birthplace of President Kim Il Sung’s revolutionary hero wife – Kim Jong Suk.
Visit the statue of Mother Kim Jong Suk (Mother of General Kim Jong Il) and her Revolutionary Museum.
Visit the Native home of Mother Kim Jong Suk
Visit Kim Ki Song middle school where we’ll involve ourselves in an English class; most of these students have most likely never seen a westerner before.
Check into the Hoeryong Hotel for dinner and drinks.
Friday 13th July
Drive to Chongjin City (2 hours) – Chongjin is DPRK’s third largest city and is most famous for it’s steelworks industry.
Arrive at Chongjin Foreign Language School for your first intensive, introductory Korean language lesson (2 hours with break)
After class we will have a free speaking session with students from the academy where you can practice your Korean and they can use their English.
Lunch at the Chongjin Seamen’s Club, another location to practice our Korean with people in the front bar or billiards bar.
Visit the newly renovated city square to pay respects to the statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
We’ll walk around the square to visit the newly built E-Library – here the locals have a chance to use their local intranet for research, practice their typing skills and to play locally made computer games.
Visit the newly renovated Revolutionary Museum of Chongjin
Dinner and drinks at the Namgang Restaurant. This restaurant has some of the most animated Korean waitress performances this side of Pyongyang and also a great opportunity to practice our new Korean phrases.
After dinner visit to the (recently opened to foreigners) spa and public bathhouse next door to freshen up before retiring for the day.
Overnight at Chongjin Hotel
Saturday 14th July
Head back to Chongjin Foreign Language School for our second day of Korean language lessons (2 hours with break).
Visit the local Kim Chaek Steel Complex Kindergarten for a Children’s Performance – we can also bring some goodies for the kids here!
Visit the Soviet Martyrs Cemetery – this cemetery was built to commemorate the Russians who landed in Chongjin to battle the Japanese Aggressors during WW2.
Drive to Mt. Chilbo (3 hours) stopping along the coastal road for some gorgeous scenic views
Arrive at the entrance to Mt. Chilbo for an explanation of the area using the world’s largest mineral painting map as a guide.
Lunch at Kaesimdae Teashop near Kaesim Temple
We’ll begin our easy hike through the mountains of Chilbo – this region is the most famous part of North Hamgyong province and has lots of colourful stories to explain the various rock structures
We’ll stop by Kaesim Buddhist Temple and meet the local monk.
Hike back to the hotel for dinner, drinks and overnight.
Sunday 15th July
We’ll begin another hike, this time up to Tokgol and Gangsonmun areas – these are the highest peaks of the Mt. Chilbo area and we’ll have stunning views of both the land and the sea.
Trip Highlight – We’ll drive to the home stay village where we’ll be greeted by our families and then taken to our homes for lunch
Third day of Korean language learning with a local teacher from the homestay village (1 hour)
Free time to practice your Korean with the villagers, play with the children, help with some light chores or walk around to meet the neighbours!
Optional Korean wrestling and volleyball tournament with the villagers.
Bonfire party on the beach with the villagers, singing songs and dancing to the closest thing you’ll hear to some North Korean techno (true story!).
Dinner and home stay overnight at the village – two guests per family.
Monday 16th July
For home stay residents help your families with morning chores – not a must but a very polite gesture
Drive to Gyongsong county (2 hours)
Picnic lunch at Muge Lake – optional extra to buy some fresh clams or try local speciality carp soup, freshly caught and prepared for us at the lake.
Yombun revolutionary site – On the way we’ll stop at this beautiful scenic site named after being one of the first places on the East Coast where villagers discovered a new way to get salt, despite the East sea being almost tideless.
Gyongsong Revolutionary Museum.
Enjoy a hot mineral bath at the local bathhouse in Gyonsong city (30 RMB extra).
Dinner and overnight at Gyongsong Hotel.
Tuesday 17th July
Visit the Jipsam Revolutionary Site where the Kim family lived when General Kim Jong Il was a young lad.
Drive to Chongjin (2 hours).
Susongchon Foodstuffs Factory – bread, soju, and other sweets are made here. Sample the soju and purchase some goods to take home!
Lunch at a local Chongjin restaurant
Final fourth day of Korean language lesson, say goodbye to our teacher(s).
Drive to Rason (2 hours).
Dinner at the local RITA Restaurant.
Drinks at a local Ukrainian owned bar near the public square!
Overnight at Namsan Hotel.
Wednesday 18th July
Visit Triangle Bank where it is permitted to change foreign currency into Korean money at an unpublished rate and to open a Korean bank account! Collect your very own DPRK bank card and open up your own “souvenir” bank account by speaking in Korean.
Rason Revolutionary Museum.
Visit the private market – The only private market in the country permitted for tourists to visit, here it’s possible to see what is available for normal citizens to buy and your chance to haggle and make some purchases using your Korean language skills! (2.5 hours to explore the market).
Visit the Mosaic Pictures of President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il.
Rason Art Gallery.
Visit the souvenir shop combined with a foreign language bookshop.
Lunch at the Kumyong Restaurant – great local dishes!
Visit the foreign language high school – here we’ll split up into small groups and chat with the students. They really appreciate this as they like to practice English with foreigners and we’ll be able to practice our Korean!
Haeyang Park – the newly constructed city park with a new 4-D cinema! While you’re here why not sample some of the famous Czech Joint Venture beer from the bar inside?
Dinner and performance at the Emperor Hotel – Enjoy a buffet meal and scintillating performance usually held for VIP casino guests!
Overnight at Namsan Hotel.
Thursday 19th July
Drive to Tumangang City and we’ll drive up a mountain where we can see the three-points border where China, DPRK, and Russia meet!
Sungjondae Monument to the Famous Admiral Ri Sun Xin, inventor of the turtle ship.
Visit Sonbong Kindergarten (here is another good opportunity to bring some gifts for the children if you wish).
Lunch in Sonbong City.
Exit Rason and re-enter China.
A coach transfer back to Tumen city – The tour concludes here. We can organise transfer/accommodation in Yanji city or train/plane tickets to your next destination.
• 4 x 2 hour Korean language classes at Chongjin Foreign Language School
• Twin share accommodation (single supplements are available for an extra 40 EUR per night).
• Railway transport (Beijing to Tumen and Pyongyang to Beijing).
• All meals in the DPRK unless specified in the itinerary.
• Korean and Western guides.
• Air-conditioned bus and driver.
• All entrances (unless otherwise stated).