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 North Korea Suddenly Open to American Travelers; Last Minute Decision
to Grant Visas to Attend the Famed Mass Games in Pyongyang
SAN FRANCISCO, March 8, 2007 - Geographic Expeditions, responding to a sudden decision by North Korea to grant visas to Americans
for its famed Mass Games in April, has announced an April 22nd - May 1st departure to the DPRK.
Jim Sano, President of the San Francisco based Travel Company, said that "We kept our lines of communication open, after the cancellation of our two trips to North Korea last year because of devastating flooding there, and we're poised to offer this trip, albeit on short notice." Because the North Koreans have set a late March deadline for visa applications, "our travelers will have to take advantage of a tiny window of opportunity to become some of the first Americans -- other than a sprinkling of journalists -- to visit the DPRK in more than 50 years," Sano said.
GeoEx is the only major American tour company to offer trips to North Korea this spring. The centerpiece of GeoEx's 10-day trip is the famed Mass Games, scheduled this year to commemorate the birthday of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il. Huge extravaganzas one witness described as making "the Olympic opening ceremony look like a school play," the Mass Games are one of the world's most astounding human spectacles.
GeoEx's itinerary begins in Seoul, capital South Korea, and continues to Gyeongju, a treasure house of Silla dynasty temples and palaces. After flying to Beijing, the GeoEx group will continue to Pyongyang, capital of the DPRK, where it will witness the Mass Games, an art form unique to the DPRK. In a stadium holding 150,000 people (said to be the largest seating capacity in the world) 80,000 dancers and gymnasts emerge from months of grueling practice and perform against a massive backdrop of rapidly changing flash cards showing images of North Korean unity, strength, and agricultural bounty.
The group will also pay visits to the DPRK border cities of Kaesong and Panmunjom, on the edge of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). This border is marked by a surprisingly tiny "wall" only six inches high and under vigilant watch by soldiers from both sides of the line. "It is a surreal, oddly peaceful scene," said GeoEx's Sarah Timewell, who will co-lead the trip with Vassi Koutsaftis one of the company's most experienced guides.

"But the ideological distance between the two Koreas is as large and gaping as the physical gap here is small. It is said that at night you can see the lights of Seoul, roughly 30 miles away," Timewell said.
The planning, logistics, and permissions for such trips are "daunting and delicate," Sano said. "But pioneering travel firsts has always been one of GeoEx's specialties, and we have nailed down the details. Sarah is British and has been able to travel extensively in the DPRK, she knows its history, politics, and on-the-ground realities very well. This is a marvelous opportunity for our travelers to experience North Korea behind the headlines."

Space for GeoEx's The Two Koreas is very limited. Travelers can call 800-777-8183 or visit for details and reservations, which must be made before March 28th.
A pioneer of travel to remote and challenging destinations since 1982, Geographic Expeditions offers a varied portfolio of overland tours, treks, walks, and expeditionary voyages to the world's most astonishing places. The company also offers Private Journeys for groups, families, and couples.


Geographic Expeditions

Also See: Hyundai Losing Money on the Mount Kumgang Resort in North Korea / March 2003

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