"Flight from Beijing" Top 5 Page for this destination P'yongyang Transportation Tip by Willettsworld
P'yongyang Transportation: 15 reviews and 36 photos
Apart from Air China, the only other way in to North Korea by air is with their national carrier - Air Koryo - infamous for being the only airline to be rated 1 star currently by Skytrax. As part of my trip itinerary, I flew in from Beijing with Air Koryo on an old looking Russian plane called an Ilyushin II-62M that, I think, was built in the 1970's. The first photo of it is at Beijing whilst the 2nd and 3rd are at Pyongyang. I sat next to two German ladies, one of which has been working in North Korea for the last couple of years helping them out with agriculture as they have suffered from bad floods in recent years. The plane was surprisingly fairly full with a mixture of western and Chinese tourists and businessmen and North Koreans allowed out on good behaviour in order to do business with the Chinese.
I got given two pieces of reading material - the first was called "The Pyongyang Times" which was a very thin A3 newspaper with a few photos on the front of Kim Jong Il visiting some industrial complex. The date at the top was Saturday, May 31, Juche 97 (2008). Juche is the official state ideology of North Korea which was developed by Kim Il Sung. Juche 97 is 97 years after his birth in 1912. The second piece of reading material was a nice large A3 glossy magazine with some very nice photo's, some of which look very staged and look like they could have come straight out of a 1970's fashion catalogue. The first sentence I read from it was "Korea fell into ruins owing to the three-year war (June 1950-July 1953) provoked by the US imperialists." And this was even before we had even landed in North Korea! (there's a website you can visit - see below. Click on "The Pyongyang Times" or “Korea" for online past editions).
Food was served during the flight which was rice, some kind of pork and potato dish with sauce, salad, sponge cake and tinned like fruit. It would have been better if it wasn't all stone cold. Drinks were also served and I helped myself to my first introduction to North Korean beer which was frothy and strong tasting. We came in to land over 100's of rice paddy fields with dark brown soil in the middle of nowhere with just a few buildings dotted around, after being in the air for a couple of hours. We all then got off and headed to the small terminal building full of guards and airport officials. Passport control was a breeze and then I had to wait for my bag which was then scanned through an X-ray machine. I was asked if I was carrying a mobile phone or a laptop to which I replied no and I then walked out to where my fellow tour members were waiting beside a small bus. I managed to get my copy of Lonely Planet Korea through but I had to show my camera and iPod which I then took through with me. Easy! I was expecting a full bag search and for it to take ages but there was no such thing. People even got their laptops back but mobile phones were confiscated, only to be returned at the end of the trip.
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