The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Nuclear weapons development program
Tensions have increased in the region as a result of North Korea’s ongoing nuclear weapons development program. In April and December 2012, North Korea attempted to launch two missiles into orbit, and on February 12, 2013, performed a nuclear weapons test. Additional tests cannot be ruled out.
North Korea and South Korea
Relations between North Korea and South Korea remain tense. On March 11, 2013, North Korea issued a statement declaring that the Korean Armistice Agreement is invalid. While past threats made by the North to nullify this agreement have gone unfulfilled, this statement has raised tension in the region.
Border skirmishes with South Korean armed forces occur occasionally. The security situation could deteriorate suddenly. Due to very limited access to international media broadcasts in North Korea, you may be taken by surprise by events that could affect your security.
The crime rate is low. Petty crime occurs, especially at the airport in Pyongyang and in public markets. Ensure personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.
Travel within North Korea is severely restricted. Transportation is usually provided by local tour representatives or authorities. Traffic is usually minimal, and major highways are in good condition. Rural roads can be hazardous. Police checkpoints, usually located at the entry to towns, may require that travellers provide documentation before onward travel is permitted.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
General safety information
There is no resident Canadian government office in the country. Register with the Embassy of Canada in Seoul, South Korea, and with the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang.
Canadian or Swedish authorities may encounter major difficulties and delays in obtaining consular access to you if you are detained, particularly outside of the capital, Pyongyang. The provision of consular access is solely at the discretion of the North Korean government. Knowledge of North Korean police and judicial systems is limited, which may affect our ability to provide assistance to you.
Tourist facilities are minimal and telecommunications are unreliable. Individual tourism can be arranged only through a handful of North Korean government-approved travel agencies. Travel must be authorized in advance by the government. Travellers are closely observed. Hotel rooms, telephones and fax machines are monitored. There are serious shortages of food, electricity and clean water.