Fly the less-than-friendly skies with Air Koryo

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I wish he’d been able to get information on the airline’s customer service. I’ll bet it makes 1980s Aeroflot (or the current Ryanair) look like 2019 Emirates.


Depending on who you are it might actually be really good. Just imagine if they made a virtue of necessity by having your Interior Ministry ‘minder’ also function as your customer relationship ambassador; and keep as close an eye on your luggage as he does on you.

You just don’t get that kind of personal service from some behemoth that doesn’t even care if you are a subversive element or not; and would almost certainly charge you a usurious rebooking fee if you need to change your destination to ‘the camps’ on short notice.


To spare you some minutes of your life if you haven’t watched the video yet: It’s six minutes of hilariously stating the fact that North Korea has been heavily sanctioned and can’t buy planes or much fuel so, haha, look at how shitty their airline is. It also makes the unfunded claim that passenger treatment on this airline would be any more unfriendly than that of most other airlines in the world.


That’s basically how Cathay Pacific justifies all the recent news about how much information they’re collecting on their customers: “we just want to offer the best, most personalized service!”

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I was hoping for some kind of personal account of how shitty the service is. Am disappoint.

Also, does this mean the US flagship airline is American Airlines?! Am disappoint.

At least it’s not United.


The US hasn’t had a flag carrier since deregulation and the end of Pan Am.


I’m happy to say I’ve flown Air Koryo, back in 2005. It was a Ilyushin, I think. It felt like riding in an old panel van, and there were lots of alarming rattles.

I have to say the service was pretty good. The FAs wheeled out the service carts during the initial climb. That was impressive. Plus they served a tasty foil-wrapped hamburger.


“Our Captain says, you had enough food and fasten your seatbelts”

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Still better than United, I’m sure.


It is (or, at least, was) possible to book a trip to DPRK and fly on their increasingly rare, Soviet-era aircraft (while at the same time, presumably lining the DPRK’s pockets with foreign currency).


That was an absolutely fascinating series of articles. Thank you for sharing.


pffft, i watched this yesterday - before it was cool to watch it.

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There’s a book called ‘Axis of Evil World Tour’ which chronicles the travels of one American who managed to go to Iraq, Iran, and North Korea at the time they were explicitly labeled as the ‘Axis of Evil.’ It’s a fascinating book and the bit about North Korea is, I think, particularly interesting because the author speaks fluent Korean.

It’s not impossible you might enjoy the book. In fact, I see that the author’s been nice enough to put the entire North Korea chapter online for free, so it doesn’t cost anything to see if you like the style.


Well, it was funny. “That’s how time works.”

You should check out Around the Bloc. Basically a travelogue about living for short spells in Russia, China and Cuba. Favorite line went something like: It is a myth that Russians drink a lot of alcohol. They drink an insane amount of alcohol.


Republic Airlines logo:
Air Koryo logo:

I’m guessing they (probably) don’t destroy guitar shaped luggage just for fun. So they have that going for them. Which is nice.

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