If, like me, you love collecting stamps in your passport from every country you visit then you may be interested to know how you go about getting one from North Korea.
When visiting the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea’s official name) you will need to go using a tour company. As far as I’m aware pretty much all tour companies arrange the visas for you and this is included in the price you pay. However, when the visa is arranged this way what you get is a paper visa separate from your passport. Although this looks cool you don’t actually get to keep it and it’s taken off of you upon your departure!
The only way to get a stamp in your passport is by arranging to collect the visa at the North Korean embassy in your country. Sadly, there aren’t many North Korean embassies so this will rule out a lot of countries. But good news for Londoners like me- there is an embassy in London ! The fact that so few westerners get the visa stamp also makes it much rarer!
If you explain to your tour company that you wish to collect the visa yourself then they will just charge you a small processing fee and then they will let you know when the embassy has your visa ready for collection. (This is what happened with my tour company and I’d imagine it’s the same process for all them ).
Here’s what the visa and stamps look like:
And here’s what the North Korean embassy in London looks like:
It just looks like a regular suburban house! When collecting my visa I rang the bell on the front gate, excited that I might be able to see inside, but no… A Korean man came to meet me at the front gate and we exchanged my passport and visa fee (£20) through the gaps in the gate ! I felt like we were doing a dodgy deal. He asked me to return in 20 minutes and he handed my back my passport with the visa stamp inside. At least the process is much quicker than other embassies I guess !
**UPDATE: The man who lived and worked at this embassy has now defected ! So I am not sure that you’ll be able to get your visas here for a while. To read more about the story see here. I hope he and his family are safe and happy wherever they have moved on to.
Here is a link to the tour company I used: http://www.youngpioneertours.com
See a list of North Korean embassies here.
If you have any questions please ask me in the comments.