- General Info
- Health Risks
- Security Concerns
- Weather Notes
- Electrical Standards
- Visa Info
- Time Zone
Following World War II, Korea was split, with the northern half coming under Communist domination and the southern portion becoming Western-oriented. KIM Chong-il has ruled North Korea since his father and the country's founder, president KIM Il-song, died in 1994. After decades of mismanagement, the North relies heavily on international food aid to feed its population while continuing to expend resources to maintain an army of about 1 million. North Korea's long-range missile development and research into nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and massive conventional armed forces are of major concern to the international community. In December 2002, North Korea repudiated a 1994 agreement that shut down its nuclear reactors and expelled UN monitors, further raising fears it would produce nuclear weapons.
Source: CIA World Factbook
The preventive measures you need to take while traveling in East Asia depend on the areas you visit and the length of time you stay. You should observe the precautions listed in this document in most areas of this region. However, in highly developed areas of Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan, you should observe health precautions similar to those that would apply while traveling in the United States.
Travelers diarrhea, the number one illness in travelers, can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (Typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.
Malaria is a serious, but preventable infection that can be fatal. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites. Travelers to some areas in China, Hong Kong S.A.R. (China), North Korea, and South Korea may be at risk for malaria. Travelers to malaria-risk areas in China, North Korea, and South Korea should take an antimalarial drug. The risk of malaria in Hong Kong S.A.R. is so limited that taking an antimalarial drug is not recommended. There is no risk of malaria in Japan, Taiwan, Macao S.A.R. (China), and Mongolia.
Dengue, filariasis, Japanese encephalitis, leishmaniasis, and plague are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.
If you visit the Himalayan Mountains, ascend gradually to allow time for your body to adjust to the high altitude, which can cause insomnia, headaches, nausea, and altitude sickness. In addition, use sunblock rated at least SPF 15, because the risk of sunburn is greater at high altitudes.
There is no risk for yellow fever in East Asia. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain of these countries if you are coming from countries in South America or sub-Saharan Africa. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.
CDC recommends the following vaccines (as appropriate for age):
See your doctor at least 46 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.
- Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG), except travelers to Japan.
- Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
- Japanese encephalitis, only if you plan to visit rural areas for 4 weeks or more, except under special circumstances, such as a known outbreak of Japanese encephalitis.
- Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
- Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
- As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 1112 years who did not receive the series as infants.
- Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an absolute 1-micron or less filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. Absolute 1-micron filters are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
- If you visit an area where there is risk for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
- Pay special attention to mosquito protection between dusk and dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
- Use insect repellents that contain DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide).
- Read and follow the directions and precautions on the product label.
- Apply insect repellent to exposed skin.
- Do not put repellent on wounds or broken skin.
- Do not breathe in, swallow, or get into the eyes (DEET is toxic if swallowed). If using a spray product, apply DEET to your face by spraying your hands and rubbing the product carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
- Unless you are staying in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin or deltamethrin. Or, spray the bed net with one of these insecticides if you are unable to find a pretreated bed net.
- DEET may be used on adults, children, and infants older than 2 months of age. Protect infants by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
- Children under 10 years old should not apply insect repellent themselves. Do not apply to young children’s hands or around eyes and mouth.
- To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
INFORMATION ON CRIME: The North Korean government does not release statistics on crime. Violent crime is very rare and street crime is uncommon in Pyongyang. There are reports suggesting that widespread economic desperation in North Korea has led to an increased crime rate outside Pyongyang. Petty thefts have been reported, especially at the airport in Pyongyang. Lost or stolen passports should be reported to the local police and to the Swedish Embassy.
Source: U.S. Department of State
temperate with rainfall concentrated in summer
Source: CIA World Factbook
Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea's electrical current is 220/50*110/60 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.
To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.
For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.
ENTRY 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. As most travelers enter North Korea from China, prospective travelers generally also need to obtain a two-entry visa for China. A valid Chinese visa is essential for departing from North Korea at the conclusion of a visit or in an emergency. The two Koreas have opened a direct travel route to the Mt. Kumgang tourist site in the DPRK, but routine overland travel from South to North Korea is currently otherwise prohibited. Travel across the demilitarized zone is allowed only infrequently for official and government-authorized cultural and economic exchanges. There are no regularly operating direct commercial flights from South to North Korea at this time, but charter service between Seoul and Pyongyang has been established. 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. Individuals traveling 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 in third countries. For information about entry requirements and restricted areas, contact the DPRK Mission to the United Nations in New York. Address inquiries to:
The Permanent Representative
of the Democratic
People’s Republic of Korea to the United Nations
820 Second Avenue
New York, New York 10017,
Tel: (1-212) 972-3105
Fax: (1-212) 972-3154
Americans living abroad can contact the DPRK Embassy, if any, in their country of residence.
U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea usually obtain their visas at the DPRK Embassy in Beijing, China, which will only issue visas after receiving authorization from the DPRK Foreign Ministry in Pyongyang. Prior to traveling to the region, travelers may wish to confirm that authorization to issue their visa has been received from Pyongyang. Americans can call the North Korean Embassy in Beijing prior to their travel by telephone at (86-10) 6532-1186 or 6532-1189 (fax: 6532-6056).
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS: U.S. citizens traveling to the DPRK must carry a valid U.S. passport bearing the proper North Korean visa. U.S. citizens should not retain any document that may possibly identify them as citizens or residents of either the Republic of Korea (South Korea) or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) or any other third country. There is currently no way to replace a lost or stolen U.S. passport in North Korea. An American citizen who loses his/her passport must go to the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang to receive travel assistance in order to arrange their departure from North Korea and subsequent transit through China, Russia or a third country, as necessary.
CONSULAR ACCESS: There is no United States diplomatic or consular presence in the DPRK. Traveling Americans may receive limited consular services from the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang. Please note paragraph 18, below, for address and contact information for the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry photocopies of their passport data and photo pages with them at all times so that, if questioned by DPRK officials, proof of their U.S. citizenship is readily available. The U.S.- DPRK Interim Consular Agreement provides that North Korea will notify the Swedish Embassy within four days of an arrest or detention of an American citizen and will allow consular visits within two days after a request is made by the Swedish Embassy. However, consular access has not been readily granted in cases where American citizens have been reported as being detained or held against their will by DPRK officials.
Source: U.S. Department of State
The time zone for Korea, Democratic Peoples Republic of (North) is 9 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Korea, Democratic Peoples Republic of (North) would be 2:00 am
The unit of currency in Korea, Democratic Peoples Republic of (North) is the North Korean won (KPW).
Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter
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