Koryo Tours is an independent travel company based in Beijing, specializing in group and independent tourism to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (also known as North Korea). Their tours run throughout the year though December is generally closed to tourism due to the cold and closure of the museums. There are packages for staying in the capital Pyongyang with visits to the DMZ at the border with the Republic of Korea. At different times of year there are other events such as the Mass Games and the Pyongyang International Film Festival which are available as special tours when they are running.
In 1993, Koryo Tours was set up by Nick Bonner and Joshua Green and they have been organizing trips into the Democratic People's Republic of Korea since 1993. Simon Cockerell joined the company in 2002 and in 2015 was the general manager.
In 1993, Koryo Tours was appointed as a travel specialist by the Korea International Travel Company, part of the DPRK Government body. Koryo Tours takes in over 50% of westerners visiting North Korea. Koryo Tours is responsible for opening up of new destinations in DPRK as well as new activities such as; cycling, educational tours etc.
Koryo Tours was involved in the production of a number of films. The Game of Their Lives (2002), A State of Mind (2004) and Crossing the Line (2006) were documentaries. Comrade Kim Goes Flying (2012) was a romantic comedy feature film, shot in Pyongyang, with a North Korean cast and crew.
As part of the making of The Game of Their Lives, Koryo Tours organized the return of the DPRK 1966 World Cup team to UK in October 2002. Over 100,000 British football fans turned out to welcome the players at various football clubs.
Koryo Tours is the international co-ordinator for the bi-annual Pyongyang International Film Festival which has a local audience total of 120,000. In 2004 and 2006 they screened Bend It Like Beckham, Mr Bean the Disaster Movie and Bride and Prejudice, each film seen by over 12,000 locals. They assisted the British Embassy with the nationwide broadcast of ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ on December 26, 2010 (the first western feature film to be broadcast in DPRK).
They have organized various cultural exchanges, including music and sport. In conjunction with the DPRK Ministry of Sport, they arranged the first friendship football, ice hockey, cricket, volleyball and ultimate frisbee matches between locals and westerners. In September 2010 with the support of the British Embassy and CLSA to mark ten years of diplomatic relations they took Middlesbrough Women’s FC to Pyongyang to play two North Korean teams, both matches watched by 6,000 Korean fans and broadcast nationwide.
2009 in-house publishing of ‘The Art of DPRK – North Korean Film Posters’. 2007 produced ‘Welcome to Pyongyang’ a photographic study with Charlie Crane (winner of the British Journal of Photography International Prize). 2008 co-writer ‘A Night in Pyongyang’ (mass games photographic book) Werner Kranwetvogel. 2002 Wallpaper Magazine produced and wrote architectural feature on Pyongyang in conjunction with DPRK photographer.
BBC Radio 3 – Co-ordinator for ‘Travelogue’ Channel 4 (UK) the first travel programme on DPRK (1995). Arranged the first music programme on North Korea with Andy Kershaw, two-parts, Sony nomination (2003). BBC Radio 4- Profiled in two-part radio travelogue following Nicholas Bonner on tour in North Korea, Sony nominated (2005). Regular media contributor/interviews. (2007) CNN TalkAsia interview with Nicholas Bonner. (2006) Nicholas Bonner and Daniel Gordon interview on their documentary ‘Crossing the Line’ for CBS 60 Minutes feature with Bob Simmons. Co-presenter in TV travel series ‘Departures’ on North Korea (2009) broadcast National Geographic Adventure Channel.
- Glain, Steve (February 19, 1997). "A Visit to North Korea Can Be Amazingly Hip ... If You Get in". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-09-15. Koryo Tours is a British-run company. The company has organized travel and cultural exchanges with the DPRK.
- "US tourists can visit DPRK for mass games". People's Daily Online. September 23, 2005. Retrieved 2008-09-15.
- Lee, Su Hyun (October 2, 2005). "North Korea Allowing U.S. Visitors (but Time Is Short)". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-15.
- Fifield, Anna (August 5, 2015). "North Korea tours: Simon Cockerell of Koryo Tours has visited 143 times". Washington Post.
- "Tough going, but a holiday in North Korea is not impossible". Daily Times (Pakistan). July 21, 2004. Retrieved 2008-09-15.
- Koryo Quarterly newsletter, August 2008
- "Official website". Comradekimgoesflying.com. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
- "Comrade Kim Goes Flying", Toronto Film Festival
- Eördögh, Fruzsina (December 20, 2012). "Drive Deserted Streets in North Korea's Super-Depressing New Video Game". Slate. Retrieved February 3, 2014.