North Korea’s dicatator, Kim Jong Un, wants international aviation enthusiasts to head to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) this September. The first annual Wonsan International Friendship Air Festival promises to be an exciting and spectacular event.
FighterSweep fans—we’ve all been to super airshows such as Oshkosh AirVenture, Chicago Air and Water, and Thunder Over Louisville. But now is your chance to head to the world’s most repressive country for a thrilling, super spectacular, happy terrific airshow! It’s the Wonsan International Friendship Air Festival from September 24-26th in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea–and you’re invited.
Wonsan, a port city on the eastern shore of North Korea, has been targeted by North Korea to be a vacation destination. The city is only one part of the wider ‘Wonsan – Mount Kumgang International Tourism Zone’. In 2014, the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) designated the area as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
Additionally, the city’s Kalma Airport recently completed a US $200 Million upgrade in an effort to spur tourism. Photos show a sparkling new airport facility with little air traffic, cars, or passengers.
The inside also looks spectacular, complete with all of the modern amenities of a major airport such as baggage claim, quarantine facilities, and curbside baggage drop off points. Air Koryo, North Korea’s national and only airline, will provide chartered flights into the festival.
Touted as a non-political event…the DPRK is looking to bring together aviation enthusiasts from around the world who share in the passion of planes and flying. International guests will be able to book entry into the air festival using one of the pre-determined tourist agencies.
Air festival officials state that there is no independent travel around the country—not that you would want to take that chance in the first place. North Korea has been known to detain individuals for doing pretty much anything.
So what might you see at a DPRK sponsored airshow? We will take a guess that if North Korea really wants to put on a show, they will bring out their best. Participants could include (assuming maintenance is up to speed):
–Mig 29 Fulcrums (purchased from Russia)
–Mig 21 Fishbed
–Mig 23 Flogger
–Ilyushin Il-18 (P-835) and Tupolev TU134B-3 (P-813), Air Koryo’s vintage (and still being used) aircraft
If you are worried about sighting any of these aircraft, a tally on the North Korean fighters should not be a problem. Visitors should be able to spot the smoky engines from quite a distance, and from pretty much anywhere in the grandstands.
However, if you thought just seeing aircraft was going to be enough, wait just a North Korean minute. The three-day festival also includes skydiving, songs and dances by Korean performers and delectable food from North Korea.
But there’s more! Visitors can take a scenic Air Koryo flight, visit a waterfall, watch fireworks, and join in a Grand Finale mass dance. For you beer lovers, the DPRK beer showcase will be out in full force. This is also North Korea’s first beer festival and it promises to be as excellent as the airshow.
So who is willing to take the chance?
If You Go To Wonsan
The Wonsan International Friendship Air Festival is scheduled from September 24-26, 2016. Plan on flying into and out of Beijing, as it appears that is really the only connection point. Necessary visas will need to be secured prior to entry into the DPRK. Travel accommodation is limited to only the designated travel companies listed on the website.
US citizens considering going should review the US State Department guidance for North Korea found here.
You can visit the Wonsan International Friendship Air Festival’s official site here.
Top Photo credit: Kim Jong Un meets with DPRK’s first female fighter pilots. (North Korea national news service via CNN)
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