Since the latter half of the 1940s, the Korean Peninsula has consisted of two separate states. The two Korean states, which once constituted the same Korean nation, have developed in diametrically different directions. South Korea has developed into a democracy with a market economy, while North Korea has remained a one-party state based on a planned economy. Despite the fact that the two Korean states share a common history and are inhabited by the same people who speak the same language, today there is little that unites the countries. The contrasts become striking when you visit the countries one after the other. Join us on a journey that will take us to the two Korean states and also China’s capital Beijing!
In North Korea, you get to see most of what the closed one-party state wants to show off to visiting foreigners. We see monumental monuments erected to pay homage to the ruling Kim clan, we visit the demilitarized zone on the border with South Korea and we see a spectacular show honoring the Korean leaders and the sacrifices of the North Korean people. We also visit North Korea’s film studio, various museums and a library, among many other things. In neighboring South Korea, we get an idea of what North Korea could also have looked like if it had made a different path. In South Korea, we take part in both traditional and modern cultural expressions, visit exciting markets and marvel at the metropolis of Seoul, which has become one of the world’s most modern cities. At the end of the trip, a visit to Beijing also awaits.
Day 1: Flight to North Korea
We begin the journey to the North Korean capital Pyongyang. The flight goes via Beijing. Meals are included on board the long-haul flights.
Day 2: Pyongyang
We fly to Pyongyang from Beijing. After a short city tour in the North Korean capital where we see, among other things, Juche Tower and Kim Il Song Square. After a few hours of rest, we have a welcome dinner in the evening (Dinner)
Day 3: Pyongyang – Kaesong
Today we visit some of the most important monuments and museums in Pyongyang, including Pyongyang’s Arc de Triomphe and the Mansudae Monuments which consist of two huge statues of the North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, as well as other monumental works of art with patriotic and socialist messages. We also visit the People’s Study House (North Korea’s largest library). In the afternoon we go to Mangyongdae and see the small simple house where “The Great Leader” Kim Il Sung was born and spent his early childhood. From here we continue to Kaesong, one of the few cities of historical significance that escaped much of the devastation during the Korean War. Kaesong was the capital of Korea during the Koryodynasty (918-1392) and is not far from the border with what is today South Korea. In Kaesong we visit, among other things, King Wanggon’s mausoleum. Overnight in Kaesong.
Day 4: Kaesong – Panmunjom – Pyongyang
After breakfast we continue towards the demilitarized zone and the border village of Panmunjom where the border line between North and South Korea runs since the end of the Korean War. In Panmunjom we visit the building where the armistice between North and South Korea was signed in 1953. The border line runs straight through the building and we can therefore take a few steps into South Korea. After visiting the demilitarized zone, we return to Kaesong to visit the Koryo Museum. Later in the evening, we return to Pyongyang to see a large-scale and spectacular theater and circus performance with a mass line-up of actors. Overnight in Pyongyang. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Day 5: Pyongyang – Nampo – Pyongyang
After breakfast we head towards the port city of Nampo to view the North Sea dam with its many locks and its 8 km long sea wall. Back in Pyongyang, we visit a high school where we get to attend a lesson, or we visit Pyongyang’s children’s palace to see some of all the activities offered to school children there. In the afternoon we visit North Korea’s film studio just outside the capital for a guided tour of the place. The North Korean film industry may not be particularly well-known abroad, but Kim Jong Il had a very strong interest in film and was largely involved in government film production. The film studio consists of various “neighborhoods” with houses and decor that will bring thoughts abroad. Here we can see how North Korean filmmakers over the decades have imagined China, Japan, South Korea and Europe. Overnight in Pyongyang. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Day 6: Pyongyang – Beijing
In the morning Pyongyang we are shown the American “spy ship” USS Pueblo which was seized by the North Korean navy in 1968. We also visit the Victorian Patriotic War Museum where we get to see exhibitions about the Korean War. The explanations are very different from what is common in the West. Then we visit Pyongyang Subway. The stations that foreigners can visit are in a bloated marble style, have crystal chandeliers on the roofs and are decorated with revolutionary art. Before we head to the airport for the return trip, we visit a bookstore where you can buy a selection of books and writings about North Korea and its leaders. Overnight in Beijing. (Breakfast and lunch)
Day 7: Beijing – Seoul
We fly from Beijing to the South Korean capital Seoul. We begin our stay in Seoul with a visit to the Seoul Tower. From here we enjoy the view of the metropolitan area with over 20 million inhabitants. We then visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace, built in 1395, known for its fine architecture, arched gates and beautiful gardens. The palace was the most important of the royal palaces during the long Joseon dynasty (1392-1910) and has become a symbol of Korea’s independence. Finally, we visit the Changdeokgung Palace, which was the absolute favorite palace of many Joseon princes. Gyeongbokgung Palace is closed on Tuesdays and Changdeokgung Palace on Mondays. Should any of the respective palace visits occur on a day when it is closed, we will instead visit another of Seoul’s many sights. (Breakfast and lunch)
Day 8: Seoul – Imjingak – DMZ – Seoul
After breakfast we make an excursion to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) at the 38th parallel. The zone has served as a buffer zone between North and South since the ceasefire was signed in 1953. We stop at Imjingak Park with its monuments to the Korean War. At the Mangbaedan altar, people born in what is now North Korea gather every New Year to ceremoniously show their reverence and respect for the places where their ancestors rest. Not far away is the Freedom Bridge, an old railway bridge that 13,000 prisoners of war crossed after the end of the war on their way to freedom in the South. Another memorial is a locomotive pierced by bullets and grenades. The so-called Peace Stones, stones taken from 86 battlefields in 64 different countries, symbolize the suffering and pain of war. We continue to the border with North Korea and the DMZ. Tensions between South and North are always high and there are thousands of soldiers on both sides of the border. Signs warning of mined areas speak their clear language. In 1978, the South Korean military discovered a tunnel building 70 meters below the ground in a north-south direction. It is one of several discovered tunnels dug by the North Koreans to be used in surprise attacks on the South. It is estimated that 30,000 soldiers per hour could have passed the 1635 meter long tunnel in such an attack. Those who wish can take part in an exciting hike along a few hundred meters of the tunnel. At the Dora lookout point, we can get an overview of the border area and even see far into North Korea. Among other things, we can see the North Korean propaganda village Gijeongdong with the world’s largest flag, 35 X 28 meters, which hangs on a 160 meter high flagpole. In the afternoon we visit the border village of Panmunjom where North Korean and South Korean soldiers face each other. This time, however, we are approaching the border village from the South and can thus look into the North Korea we recently visited. Overnight in Seoul. (Breakfast and lunch)
Day 9: Seoul
We start the day by visiting the Bukchon area near Gyeokbokgung Palace. During the Joseon dynasty, nobles and high officials who served the court lived here. Bukchon is known for its characteristic traditional-style houses that have been preserved to reflect what it once looked like in ancient Korea. Some of the buildings still function as residential houses while others have been converted into restaurants, cafés or boutiques. We then visit one of Korea’s largest markets – Namdaemun with a huge range of all kinds of goods. We then continue to the charming Insadong district with its large selection of galleries, antique shops, boutiques, cafes and much more. Here you can find everything from antiques to handicrafts and modern art. (Breakfast and lunch)
Day 10: Seoul – Andong
In the morning, our journey continues south towards the picturesque city of Andong, the cradle of Korean Confucianism. Today’s program includes a visit to the Andong Folk Museum and Dosansewon Confucian School. We also visit the village of Hahoe, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here we experience Korean traditional culture, as it was expressed in the countryside in ancient times. In the village there are 130 typical clan houses that have been inherited over the generations. Overnight in Andong. (Breakfast and lunch)
Day 11: Andong – Gyeongju
After breakfast, the journey goes to Gyeongju, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Silla for almost 1000 years (57 BC – 935 AD). During its heyday, the empire covered about two-thirds of the Korean Peninsula. With its background, the city has a rich treasure of archeological sites and historical relics and is therefore called “the museum without walls”. After a visit to the Gyeongju National Museum, we walk in Tumuli Park and view the Herring Kings’ grassy burial mounds. During the walk we also see the beautiful Anapji pond where the Herring Kings and their company are said to have spent much of their free time. Today’s attractions also include Cheomseongdae, one of the world’s oldest observatories. Overnight in Gyeongju. (Breakfast and lunch)
Day 12: Gyongju – Busan
Today we visit some magnificent temples that are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Seokguram is located inside a cave and is considered one of Asia’s finest Buddhist shrines. It belongs to the temple complex Bulguksa, built in 528 during the Silla dynasty. The temple area is beautifully situated on the slopes of Mount Tohamsan. We continue to the port city of Busan, South Korea’s second largest city. Here we visit Jagalchi, which is Korea’s largest fish market. (Breakfast and lunch)
Day 13: Busan – Beijing
Transfer to the airport for flights to Beijing. The airport takes about 2 hours. After check-in at the hotel, you can use the rest of the day at your own discretion. Feel free to ask the tour guide for tips on places that may be worth a visit! (Breakfast)
Day 14: Beijing
All day for your own adventures. You can also choose to join an extra trip to the Forbidden City (closed on Mondays) and the Great Wall of China. Overnight in Beijing. (Breakfast)
Day 15: Return from Beijing
Transfer to the airport and return to the destination. Meals are included on board the long-haul flight.