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jan 13 2010

North Korea welcoming U.S. tourists year-round

On Friday, North Korea will let U.S. travelers visit year-round instead of only during the country's brief annual national gymnastics and propaganda festival.

Guided group tours brought in 292 Americans for the festival last year, reports Reuters.

Prices haven't been set, but similar tours for European visitors start at about $1,000 for four-night stays at designated hotels, guided bus tours, and round-trip flights departing from Beijing. Guests would likely fly Air Koryo, the worst rated airline on Skytrax's list of international airlines. The European Union includes it on its blacklist of 196 airlines you should avoid.

Money spent on the tour by travelers will provide hard currency to the impoverished dictatorship, which walked away from nuclear disarmament talks. The U.S. is still technically at war with North Korea, as a formal peace treaty has never been signed.

U.S. companies likely to offer tours are Asia Pacific Travel in Chicago, Explore North Korea Tour Group in New York, and Geographic Expeditions in San Francisco. The leading tour company internationally is Koryo Tours, based in Beijing.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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