Yough Pioneer Tours

Australians in North Korea

Are there any Australians in North Korea? The history of Australia-DPRK relations might not exactly be a saga for the ages, but it is not without incident or, indeed, the odd amusing story. We have a particular interest in this, as we have (at present) two Australian guides to North Korea.

Australia officially opened an embassy in Pyongyang in 1975, at the very height of the Cold War. Said embassy lasted less than six months, and closed its doors following an alleged incident involving drunk people and a toga party. The issue of reopening an Australian embassy in the North Korean capital has been raised a number of times over the years, but this has not happened. As of today, the Australian ambassador based in Seoul is responsible for relations with Pyongyang.

Australians in North Korea -- Kim Jong Un and Malcolm Turnbull.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

On the other side of the equation, North Korea had an embassy in Canberra until 2008, when it was closed. North Korea attempted to reopen the embassy in 2013, but this did not come to fruition. The North Korean embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, is currently responsible for relations with Australia.

At the time of writing there was one Australian living full-time in Pyongyang: Alex Sigly of Tongil Tours, who studies at a university there. As previously mentioned, YPT have two Australians in North Korea regularly — Matt and Rowan — whose tour work necessarily leads to their spending a lot of time in Pyongyang.

If you’re an Aussie interested in visiting North Korea, then you’re unlikely to be the only one on the trip – a great many of our customers hail from Down Under.

Australians, like every other country, require a visa to enter North Korea, but it’s no harder to acquire than for any other nation. The lack of Pyongyang-based embassy is also not a problem, as issued visas are picked up by our staff in China and given to our customers at the pre-tour meeting.

North Koreans themselves have a generally positive attitude towards Australians, the fact that they took part on the ‘wrong’ side of the Korean War notwithstanding.

Check out our full list of North Korea tours to visit for yourself!

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