And I have always REALLY wanted to witness one of those massive Arirang performances (pictured, left) in Pyongyang, the nation's capital.
But I have always just assumed that this was out of the question considering my nationality.
So … I was very excited to see a press release in my in box a few minutes ago announcing that it might not be as out of the question as I had always thought. If I'm willing to cough up the cash, that is . . .
Kim Il Song 100th Birthday Celebrations
According to the press release, Asia Pacific Travel, Ltd will offer several tours of North Korea in 2012, including one that coincides with the 100th Birthday Celebrations of North Korea's Eternal President and founder, Kim Il Sung (pictured, left) in April.
While tours will include visits to various sites around North Korea, what excites me most is that travelers will most likely get to attend one of those spectacular Arirang mass performances, which will feature more than 100,000 performers in the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, the largest stadium in the world, seating 150,000 people.
Can you begin to imagine?
Madeline Albright Controvery
If I remember correctly, US Secretary of State Madeline Albright caused quite a stir when she made a state visit to Pyongyang in October 2000. She was taken to an Arirang mass performance and, while I can't remember her exact words, she said something to the effect that it was pretty darn spectacular.
And that didn't go down very well with her political opponents in Washington.
Well, gosh darn it, I'm with Madeline. Maybe I should start making my plans. Because I REALLY want to witness this!!!
Americans Can Now Stay Longer
According to the press release, the North Koreans have confirmed that Americans and nationalities other than citizens of South Korea can now tour the DPRK for extended visits. Americans could previously visit North Korea for only five days at a time. Now they can stay longer.
What is more, these visits can now take place throughout the year, and not just during the annual Arirang mass performance period, which is held in the fall. Unlike other nationalities, who can travel to North Korea from China by train, Americans need to arrive by air, resulting in a slightly higher cost for them.
All travelers to North Korea must travel in a group – even if it is a "group of one". Normally it is best and more economical to have at least two travelers together so that they can share the costs.
All APTL DPRK tours from August through September will include the Arirang synchronized mass performance.
The overall tour lengths range from six to 17 days, with prices projected from US$2,297 to US$4,675.
Copyright: Michael Taylor : Pictured: Arirang Mass games, Pyongyang, North Korea Photo Credit: Kok Leng Yeo of Singagpore via Wikimedia Commons