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North Korea

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea or the DPRK) is a highly militaristic Communist state located on the Korean Peninsula between northeast China and the Republic of Korea (South Korea or ROK), with land borders with China, Russia and South Korea. The DPRK is one of the world’s most isolated countries. The continuing dispute over North Korea’s development of nuclear programs and nuclear weapons has resulted in tensions in the region and between the United States and the DPRK. North Korea limits trade and transportation links with other countries and tightly restricts the circumstances under which foreigners may enter the country and interact with local citizens. Telephone and fax communications are unavailable in many areas of the country and foreigners can expect their communications to be monitored by DPRK officials. In the past few years, North Korea has experienced famine, flooding, fuel and electricity shortages, and outbreaks of disease. Many countries, including the United States, have contributed to international relief efforts to assist the people of North Korea.
Foreign tourists are a means for North Korea to earn much needed foreign currency, but an underdeveloped service sector, inadequate infrastructure, and political tensions with surrounding countries have stymied any significant tourist flow. North Korean efforts to expand tourism have focused primarily on group tours from China, as well as from South Korea primarily to the Mount Kumgang tourist area and the city of Kaesong. 
The United States does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations with the DPRK. The Swedish Embassy located in Pyongyang acts as the United States’ interim consular protective power and provides basic consular services to U.S. citizens traveling in North Korea.
Read the Department of State Background Notes on North Korea for additional information.

North Korea


Image of North Korea
Country Name: North Korea (aka Democratic People's Republic of Korea)
Continent: Asia
Capital City: Pyongyang
Boundary Countries: China, South Korea, Russia
Recommended Hospitals in Capital: None at this time.
Main Cities: Pyongyang, Kosong, Sonbong, Najin, Kanggye, Hamhung, Sinujiu, Namp’o
Country Size: 120,540 sq km
Population: 23,301,725





Currency: North Korean won (KPW)
Predominant Religions:

Traditionally Buddhist and Confucianist, some Christian and syncretic Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way) note: autonomous religious activities now almost nonexistent; government-sponsored religious groups exist to provide illusion of religious freedom


National Holidays: Founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), 9 September (1948)
Economic Status:

North Korea, one of the world's most centrally planned and isolated economies, faces desperate economic conditions.



North Korean People's Army: Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force; civil security forces


US Presence:

There is no U.S. embassy or consulate in North Korea.
U.S. citizens planning to visit North Korea are encouraged to register prior to departing the United States with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing if entering North Korea from China.  Registration can be done on line through the State Department's travel registration web site  or in person, by telephone or fax, at the U.S. Embassy. 

The Embassy of Sweden (U.S. Protecting Power). Americans who have a medical or consular emergency and who wish to contact the Swedish Embassy are reminded first to communicate this need to their North Korean escorts or guides. Do not attempt to travel to the Swedish Embassy unescorted. The Swedish Embassy (U.S. Protecting Power) is located at Munsu-Dong District, Pyongyang. The telephone and fax numbers for the Swedish Embassy (U.S. Protecting Power) are:
Tel:  (850-2) 3817 485 (reception)
Tel:   (850-2) 3817 904, (850-2) 3817 907 (First Secretary) 
Tel:  (850-2) 3817 908, (850-2) 3817 905 (Ambassador)
Fax:  (850-2) 3817 663

U.S. Embassy Beijing .  The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China, is located at No. 55 An Jia Lou Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing. The Embassy is located near the Ladies' Street (Nuren Jie) and Laitai Flower Market, opposite the Kempinski Hotel and Lufthansa shopping Center. Telephone: (86-10) 8531-4000. Fax: (86-10) 8531-3300. Email: amcitbeijing@state.gov. The Embassy Beijing web site is http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/. For after-hours emergencies please call (86-10) 8531-4000 and ask for the Embassy duty officer.

U.S. Embassy Seoul .  The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, is located at 32 Sejong-no, Jongno-gu, Seoul. The Embassy is located across the street from Sejong Cultural Center and next to the Ministry of Information and Communication/KT Building. Telephone: (82-2) 397-4114. Fax: (82-2) 2-397-4101. E-mail: seoul_acs@state.gov. The Embassy Seoul web site is http://seoul.usembassy.gov/. For after-hours emergencies please call (82-2) 721-4114 and ask for the Embassy duty officer.

Document Requirements:

North Korean visas are required for entry. The U.S. Government does not issue letters to private Americans seeking North Korean visas, even though in the past such letters have sometimes been requested by DPRK embassies. Prospective travelers entering and departing North Korea through China must also obtain a two-entry visa for China, as a valid Chinese visa is essential for departing North Korea at the conclusion of a visit or in an emergency. While the ROK government is attempting to open direct travel routes to the DPRK, routine travel from the ROK to the DPRK is currently prohibited. Travel across the demilitarized zone (DMZ) is allowed only infrequently for official and government-authorized cultural and economic exchanges or aid shipments. There are no regularly operating direct commercial flights from South Korea to North Korea. U.S. citizens who arrive in North Korea without a valid U.S. passport and North Korean visa may be detained, arrested, fined or denied entry. Travelers to North Korea report that fees for local travel costs (taxi, tolls, permits and the cost for security personnel assigned to escort foreigner visitors) can be high and arbitrary.

Where to obtain a North Korean visa: There is no DPRK embassy in the United States. U.S. citizens and residents planning travel to North Korea must obtain DPRK visas only at the DPRK embassy in Beijing, China, which will issue visas upon authorization from the DPRK Foreign Ministry in Pyongyang. The address of the DPRK Embassy in Beijing is as follows:

The Embassy of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in Beijing
No. 11, Ri Tan Bei Lu,
Jian Guo Men Wai,
Chaoyang District
Beijing, China 100600

It is advisable for would-be travelers to make preliminary inquiries as to whether their application for a visa to the DPRK would be approved. Americans residing in the United States can address their inquiry to the Permanent Representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the United Nations in New York at the following address:

The Permanent Representative of the Democratic
People’s Republic of Korea to the United Nations
820 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Tel: (212) 972-3105
Fax: (212) 972-3154

Americans living abroad can address their inquiries to the DPRK embassy, if there is one, in their country of residence.

Before departing for China, Americans may wish to confirm that the Embassy of the DPRK in Beijing has received authorization to issue their visa from Pyongyang. Americans can call the Visa Office of the North Korean Embassy in Beijing at (86 -10) 6532 6639. Other numbers for the DPRK Embassy in Beijing are (86-10) 6532-1186 and (86-10) 6532-1189 (fax: (86-10) 6532-6056).

Information on dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet. Please see those sections below under Special Circumstances.

Major Airports:

Airports: 77, Airports w/paved runways: 36

P’yongyang-Sunan Airport (FNJ/ZKPY)P’yongyang Airport, North Korea, Chosonminhang, General Civil Aviation Bureau of DPRK, Sunan Airport, Sunan District, P’yongyang, DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREATel: +850 (0)2 837917Fax: +850 (0)2 814625


Servicing Airlines:
Risks and Precautions:

DPRK government security personnel closely monitor the activities and conversations of foreigners in North Korea. Hotel rooms, telephones and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. The North Korean government does not release statistics on crime. Violent crime is very rare and street crime is uncommon in Pyongyang. Petty thefts have been reported, especially at the airport in Pyongyang.


Mortality Statistics:

Infant MR total: 22.56 deaths/1,000 live birthsLife expectancy at birth: TOTAL 71.92 years (male 69.18/female 74.8)


Immunization Indicators:

Required: None Recommended: Malaria (in some areas), Hep A & B, Japanese encephalitis, Rabies, Typhoid, MMR booster


Infectious Disease Concerns:

Dengue, filariasis, Japanese encephalitis, leishmaniasis, and plague are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region.


Overall Quality of Medical Services:

For decades, medical facilities in the DPRK have suffered from a lack of resources and electricity, as well as inadequate and often outdated skills among the medical staff. Hospitals in Pyongyang can perform basic examinations and lifesaving measures but functioning x-ray facilities are not generally available. Surgery should be avoided. For accidents outside Pyongyang, transport back to the capital can be a lengthy trip without medical assistance. Hospitals will expect immediate US dollar cash payment for medical treatment. Medical evacuation to Beijing can be arranged by the Swedish Embassy within approximately 5-10 hours. In case of serious medical problems, it is important to insist on immediate contact with the Swedish Embassy.


Providers in Network:
Direct Payment: 0
Referrals: 0
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Recent Medical Threats/ Concerns/Warnings:

Avian influenza is present in the region. SARS outbreak occurred in the region in 2003.


Communications Info:

Country Code:  +850
Internet Code:  .kp


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