Koryo Tours has updated their site with the information that, as of today, foreigners are again allowed to run the Pyongyang Marathon. Last week, the announcement had been made that visas would not be issued for the foreigner runners to participate in the April marathon. In fact, visas have not been issued since last fall – concerns about Ebola or something along those lines.
Here are some of the tour groups that have marathon tours:
Tour Companies Offering Marathon Packages:
Some of them are still accepting applications for another week or so, if anyone is interested.
Should You Run It?
There is no question that running in general is a great form of cultural exchange. There are many running for peace efforts that exist across the globe. That being said, North Korea is kind of the poster country for tourism ethics. There are many people with strong opinions on both sides as to whether or not foreigners should go to North Korea and, in a way through the money spent there, support the regime.
I would certainly never tell anyone where they should or should not go. It is up to each person to decide where they draw the line with various countries. I know that one major thing that would make me not want to do it is the photos from last year’s marathon. The stadium that served as the finish line area was packed with North Korean citizens. While they very well may have been there out of personal interest to see so many runners from different countries, it is also a known thing that the regime does install people to make the country look better than it may really be.
Without any type of inside knowledge, I cannot say for sure that this is what happened. However, if it is, I would have a very hard time running into this stadium with the cheers of people that were made to be there for my entertainment/enjoyment. Please do not think I would be in judgment of anyone else going – that is simply one of the key thoughts when I consider whether I would run the race. It would be an interesting time to see the inside of a country that many of us are not familiar with, but I am just not sure about the race itself, unless someone may give me more information about that.