Summary

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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all but essential travel to North Korea (DPRK).

The level of tension on the Korean peninsula remains high due to a series of North Korean nuclear and missile tests, including two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July 2017 and one in November 2017, two nuclear tests in 2016 and one in September 2017.

Since the start of 2018 there has been a renewal of direct contact between the North and South Korean governments. But there remains a threat of further missile or nuclear tests, which could lead to further instability in the region. Tensions usually rise around the time of the regular South Korean-US military exercises, notably those held in March and August. See Political situation

While daily life in the capital city Pyongyang may appear calm, the security situation in North Korea can change with little notice and with no advance warning of possible actions by the North Korean authorities. This poses significant risks to British visitors and residents.

You should follow the political and security situation very closely and stay in touch with your host organisation or tour operator.

If you’re living in North Korea or decide to travel there independently, you should inform the British Embassy in Pyongyang about your travel plans before, or on arrival.

Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan effectively and stay safe. You can also sign up to our email alert service to be notified about future updates to this travel advice.

The British Embassy Pyongyang can currently provide some consular assistance to British visitors to Pyongyang, but only limited assistance to those visiting parts of the country outside the capital. This is due to restricted access. In the event of instability or a worsening of the security situation, the ability of the British Embassy to provide consular assistance could be significantly reduced.

Some foreign nationals have reportedly not been granted access to consular support when detained in North Korea.

Very few British people visit North Korea and those that do are usually part of an organised tour. If you decide to visit North Korea, follow the advice of your tour group and the local authorities. Failure to do so could put your personal safety at risk and lead to a severe punishment from the local authorities.

Offences that would be considered trivial in other countries can incur very severe penalties in North Korea, particularly actions the authorities deem to be disrespectful towards the North Korean leadership or government. See Local law and customs

Flooding is common in the rainy season (July to August). See Natural Disasters

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in North Korea, attacks can’t be ruled out. See Terrorism

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.