YPT practice corporate responsibility and cultural engagement in North Korea and all jurisdictions we bring tourists to. Check out our links to find out more about some of the great projects we have been, or are involved with.
At Young Pioneer Tours, we strongly believe in ethical tourism and providing opportunity to change perceptions of the DPRK (North Korea). We have a long and proud history of arranging cultural projects with the Korean people; be it through art, sport, or whatever medium brings people together.
Examples of the breadth and variety of what we can help you achieve are below. If you know of a sports team or artist who would like to visit, or if you have an idea for a project, please get in touch.
Skill Training in Singapore – March 2016
In partnership with Aram Pam of DPRK360, a group of North Koreans involved in tourism travelled to Singapore for marketing, media and associated skills training. To most of them, this was their first time to leave North Korea. For this exceptional experience, YPT provided consultation, advice, and transportation logistics.
Laibach Concert – August 2015
In partnership with DPRK Consultant Morten Traavik, YPT helped to organize the first ever rock concert in North Korea. Laibach, a rock group from the former Yugoslav republic of Slovenia, performed to a full house of Koreans. A group of YPT guests attended the concert, and we arranged transport and logistics for the band and their entourage. This was one of the biggest events to hit North Korea and something we are very proud of.
Scuba Diving Tour – June 2014
After negotiation, we arranged for the first Western tourist in history to scuba dive in North Korean waters. The diving took place off the coast of Mt Chilbo, in North Hamgyong Province. The dive was assisted by local Koreans, whose village we then stayed overnight in. We will be extending this into our first ever DPRK Scuba Diving group tour in 2017.
Parkour Tour – August 2013
The first ever Parkour event in North Korea, arranged in conjunction with Breathe Parkour magazine. Our group were taken to a number of places to practice, attracting much interest from local Koreans. It may not have sparked a parkour explosion in the DPRK, but it was extremely successful, and garnered media interest both in and out of the country.
Annual Five-a-side Football – 2013 – Present
Every June, our football tour has our guests not only watching a live football game from top-level North Korean football teams, but taking part in a friendly football tournament with our Korean hosts at KITC (Korean International Travel Company). Every year it is more successful, and we also donate football shirts and other sporting equipment.
Opening the Tumen Border – November 2012
Troy Collings of YPT was the first ever Western visitor to cross the Chinese-Korean border at Tumen, Jilin, China. Previously only open to Chinese visitors, and after years of meetings and negotiations, we were able to make this available to Westerners. We now run regular group and independent tours to this little visited area of the country. The opening of this border, and the direct improvement to the lives of the people in the region through tourism, is one of our most successful cultural exchange programs.
Juche Study Tour – March 2012
With our partners in the DPRK, The Korea International Travel Company (KITC), we arranged the first ever study tour to North Korea. The trip focused on the Korean Language, and the Juche Idea, the official state ideology of the country. It gained a lot of media interest both in and out of the country, and whilst there have been similar projects since, at the time this was a groundbreaking itinerary.
Volunteer in North Korea
YPT Charitable Programs
As tourism has grown in the DPRK, so has the interest of foreigners wanting to do, and experience more in the country. It was with this in mind that we initially thought of the idea to run a farming volunteer program in North Korea.
When we approached our partners in Pyongyang back in 2013, not only were they extremely positive about our idea, but they suggested that rather than simply popping into a farm, doing our thing and then leaving that we go meet them first, build a rapport and see exactly how we could help them practically through a tourist program.
It was following these meetings, and running our initial extremely successful farming volunteer program that we decided to adopt this cooperative farm as our YPT charitable project.
Why adopt a Cooperative Farm?
As a company that have been going into the country now for 8 years we have often contributed to various appeals, charities, or funds, but we felt we would like to do something far more personal and proactive, as a way to give back to the people of the country. It is with these factors in mind that we decided to begin sponsoring our adopted collective farm.
What does sponsoring a farm entail?
The main thing that it entails is bringing in money and goods to help the farmers and residents of the cooperative farm. The goods we bring in are not just random, but are things that we have discussed with the people that run the farm, and quite often entail simple things like school books, or clothes for the children of the cooperative farm, or other things harder to get hold of in the country. As for the money that we bring in, we are fully aware how charitable projects and cash being handed over can often end up in accusations of foul play, or corruption, so we do not donate cash, but instead donate fuel vouchers to the value of the money raised to donate towards the running of the farm.
What is your Farming Volunteer Program and why should I do it?
The Farming Volunteer Program is our way of taking our Pioneers to contribute physically, socially and most importantly culturally. You enter via Pyongyang do some cool tourist stuff like normal, but most importantly step very far from the beaten track and go see how life living and working on a cooperative farm is. Quite simply not only is the one of the most unique tours you can do in the country, but your efforts truly do help. You can read more about it in our farming blog here.
How much money does YPT make from Farming Volunteer Program?
From 2016 our North Korea Farming Volunteer Program is being run as a strictly non-profit enterprise. All profits from the program after legitimate expenses are given directly back to our farm as either fuel vouchers or purchased goods, which is why we charge slightly more for the program than for a standard tour, meaning more money gets to source.
How else can I help or donate?
We tend not to take physical donations due to the logistics of bringing in goods, and being able to make sure they are practical and worthwhile, but we do take donations either through our dedicated charitable PayPal account, or as an optional donation when booking a tour.
Is this something you plan to expand on?
Very much so. In the long term, we would like to extend our helpful reach to other places, not just to one cooperative farm, and are currently in negotiations with local charities and an orphanage about how to also help them. We also plan to donate should there be emergency situations in the country, such as the terrible flooding that affected Rason earlier this year.
How do I know what you received and where the money is going?
All donations are collected separately from our main accounts, the farming program is accounted for separately, and everything related to donations will be published on a yearly basis.
Tell us about your farm.
Chilgol farm is located in the far outskirts of Pyongyang city. This farm is operated by over a hundred different Korean families capable of growing cabbage, rice, strawberries, plums, tobacco, sesame seeds, potatoes, corn, cucumbers and chilies.
We’ve selected this farm specifically to give our volunteers an exclusive insight and an experience to not only work hard, but to get a better understanding on the rural families within these parts of the DPRK.
Farming Volunteer Program – Held annually in May
A YPT western guide will accompany you to not only help you with the dirty farm work but to also show you the must-see sights of Pyongyang to give you a better understanding of the country. This is an incredible and unique opportunity to not only have you build relations with farmers and their families but to learn a thing or two about traditional organic farming, a skill that the DPRKoreans are renown for.
If you’d like to donate and help with this cause, please get in touch with us and we’ll supply you with our payment details.
Pyongyang Kindergarten for the Deaf
As tourism has grown in the DPRK, so has the interest of foreigners wanting to leave a positive impact after their stay. It was with this in mind that we initially sought to sponsor a kindergarten in North Korea.
In 2015, we met Robert Grund, the Pyongyang representative of the World Federation of the Deaf and the city’s only full-time deaf foreign resident. He established the first kindergarten for the deaf in Pyongyang’s Moranbong district; wholly paid for and funded by a small German non-profit Disabled Persons Organization.
It was following this meeting, and after a tourist contacted us asking how she could help the disadvantaged in the DPRK, that we decided to become a sponsor of the kindergarten; to raise awareness and donations.
As a company that have been going into the DPRK for eight years, we have often contributed to various appeals, charities, or funds, but we felt we would like to do something far more personal and proactive as a way to give back to the people of the country.
Robert has long championed the needs of deaf children in the DPRK. He first came to the country 11 years ago, just after finishing school, and has kept coming back, despite the many challenges thrown in his way. His efforts have resulted in an association for the deaf and the participation of North Koreans in the International Congress for the Deaf. Young Pioneer Tours is proud to support the kindergarten, and to help improve the lives of the citizens of the DPRK.
Where does my donation go?
Your donation will bring in resources and goods to help the children of the kindergarten, and the deaf Koreans who support them. We send your donation directly to the foreign NGO, who then use the funds to contribute to projects for the kindergarten. It will not be used for any other purpose than benefiting one of the most vulnerable areas of Korean society.
Our current project is “help to self-help”; empowering the deaf people of the DPRK. The NGO helps to design, create and publish sign language booklets which are used by the children in the kindergarten, and provides other care facilities for disabled Korean children. Your donation will go to fund the design and printing of these booklets, to empower deaf Koreans and enable deaf children to learn to communicate. Everything from the computers used to create them, to the ink and paper needed to print the booklets must be paid for, and this is where your donation will help. See below for an example of current workbooks at use in Pyongyang by deaf children.
Can I visit?
The kindergarten is not a usual stop on group tours, and tourists generally cannot go. However, we may be able to arrange visits for tourists who contribute a significant donation or otherwise raise awareness.
How do I know what you received and where the money is going?
Donations are collected separately from our main accounts, and the Kindergarten is accounted for separately. As we are collaborating with an NGO, the donations are sent to them directly on a quarterly basis.