Travel to North Korea possible during Pyongyang Marathon, tour operator says

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Jan. 15 (UPI) — North Korea could be reopening its borders temporarily to foreign visitors during the Pyongyang Marathon, while offering runners the option of a “virtual” race.

Beijing-based operator Koryo Tours said on its website it is offering 12 tours to North Korea in April, ranging from a weekend visit to a 10-night tour during the marathon, officially known as the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon. The race is named after the designated birthplace of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung.

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The event, which was canceled last year after North Korea shut its borders in response to the coronavirus pandemic, has attracted hundreds of foreign runners. In 2014, North Korea opened the event to amateur runners for the first time.

According to Koryo Tours, itineraries include visits to North Korean monuments honoring the leadership and museums dedicated to the Korean War. Tour participants will also be able to visit the captured U.S. spy ship the USS Pueblo, the agency said in its statement. Stops include Pyongyang, Kaesong and the DMZ viewing area on North Korea’s side of Panmunjom, the company said.

Itineraries range in price from 645 euros to 1,795 euros, or $780 to $2,170. The company did not mention any mandatory quarantine. Last year, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in China, North Korea said it quarantined foreigners for about a month, prohibiting them from leaving designated shelters. Pyongyang has reported zero cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic and could be reopening its borders to visitors coming from China.

While tours could go ahead in April, North Korea could be keeping its options open.

South Korean news agency Yonhap and KBS reported Friday the Pyongyang Marathon is to also include a “virtual” option. Participants can run any time at their place of residence from April 5 to 11 in the event that is also managed by Koryo Tours.

“Upon completion, you will receive an official Virtual Pyongyang Marathon certificate and medal,” the company said.

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