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Expat guide to life in North Korea

Expat guide to life in North Korea

Living in North Korea

The mystery that surrounds North Korea fascinates wide-eyed travelers hoping to peek in the secretive and isolated country. Foreigners visiting North Korea will be met with structured ordinances, regulations; you’re not allowed to wander on your own. While this seems restrictive, it just means you’re not bound to get lost, which is a good thing. If you’re one to try something out of the ordinary, and experience the constant rhythm of North Korea, have read through on some info we’ve put together.

North Korea

Expat Clubs

There are no expat meet up clubs as such in North Korea and most expats communicate online through websites such as ExpatWoman.com.

International Schools 

There are no known international schools in North Korea.

Local News in English

Daily NK
The Daily NK is a news site that covers news and events in North Korea. It is based in Seoul, South Korea. They discuss local and regional events and issues relevant to the country.
Website:  http://www.dailynk.com/english/index.php
Korean Central News Agency
The Korean Central News Agency is the state-run agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The news is translated in English, Russian, and Spanish.
Website: www.kcna.co.jp

Country Information 

Location: Asia
Capital City: Pyonyang
Currency: Wom
Language: Korean
Calling Code: +850
Internet TLD: none
Electricity: North Korea runs on 110/220V 60Hz.
Emergency Numbers:
Country Information
Country Study

Embassy Information


Residents Visa and Work Permit information

Citizens of Malaysia and Singapore may enter and stay in North Korea visa-free for up to 30 days. Nationals holding diplomatic passports from the following countries may also enter visa free: Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Iran, Kygyztan, Laos, Mongolia, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

Other nationals will have to obtain a visa through a North Korean government approved tour company. Applying at a tour company, travelers will have to bring their valid passports. They will have to fill up a booking form with all relevant details, including passport information. A 50% deposit is normally required to start the process. The tour company will send the application to North Korean authorities for approval.

Once approved, applicants may then go to the North Korean embassy or consulate in their home or host country to get their visas stamped on their passports. It is also possible to send the passport to the embassy or consulate, however this will take a longer time to get back.

Documents required, but not limited to:
  • Passport size photos, white background, no older than 6 months
  • Completed booking form at an approved North Korean travel company
  • Passport used when booking
  • Visa application form
  • Document from employer/school/relevant authority confirming status of applicant
Important info while touring North Korea:
  • Travelers are not allowed to roam on their own; they will always be accompanied by local tour guides.
  • Photography is restricted to what the tour guides will allow; locals and military officials should never be photographed.
  • Cellphones are not allowed.
  • It is not possible to access the Internet while in North Korea; sending emails is possible at a cost.
  • Calling overseas is also possible, however this is expensive.
  • Foreigners can only purchase items with Euros, US Dollar or Chinese Yuan currencies.


The healthcare facilities are basic and can be found across the country. But their resources are limited. Tour sites normally will have a facilities like clinics and ‘People’s Hospitals’ nearby for any emergency medical cases. Medical evacuation via plane is not permitted. Expats are advised to take out health insurance that can cover or reimburse any costs incurred.

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